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Film Legend Harold Ramis dead at 69

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The Chicago Tribunes Mark Caro writes:

Ramis’ serious health struggles began in May 2010 with an infection that led to complications related to the autoimmune disease, his wife said. Ramis had to relearn to walk but suffered a relapse of the vaculitis in late 2011, said Laurel Ward, vice president of development at Ramis’ Ocean Pictures production company.

Ramis leaves behind a formidable body of work, with writing credits on such enduring comedies as “National Lampoon’s Animal House” (which upon its 1978 release catapulted the film career of John Belushi, with whom Ramis acted at Second City), “Stripes” (1981) and “Ghostbusters” (in which Ramis also co-starred) plus such directing efforts as”Caddyshack” (1980), “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983), “Groundhog Day” and “Analyze This.”

Previously he was the first head writer (and a performer) on Second City’s groundbreaking television series “Second City Television (SCTV)” (1976-79). More recently he directed episodes of NBC’s “The Office.”

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NPR has highlights of the Tribune story, plus a link to a Ramis interview with Terry Gross::

His wife, Erica Mann Ramis, tells the Chicago Tribune that her husband, who lived in Chicago, “was surrounded by family when he died at 12:53 a.m. [Monday] from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels.”

The Associated Press also confirmed the news with Ramis’ attorney, Fred Toczek.

As the Tribune says:

“Ramis leaves behind a formidable body of work, with writing credits on such enduring comedies as National Lampoon’s Animal House (which upon its 1978 release catapulted the film career of John Belushi, with whom Ramis acted at Second City), Stripes (1981) and Ghostbusters (in which Ramis also co-starred) plus such directing efforts as Caddyshack(1980), National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), Groundhog Day andAnalyze This….

“Ramis’ comedies were often wild, silly and tilting toward anarchy, but they also were cerebral and iconoclastic, with the filmmaker heeding the Second City edict to work at the top of one’s intelligence.”

He influenced may younger actors and directors, the Tribune adds, including Judd Apatow, Jay Roach and Adam Sandler.

In 2005, Ramis talked with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross about his work. Of Caddyshack, he said, “I had this notion of [it] being like a Marx Brothers movie and Rodney [Dangerfield] was the Groucho of the team.”

TribuneRamis’ comedies were often wild, silly and tilting toward anarchy, but they also were cerebral and iconoclastic, with the filmmaker heeding the Second City edict to work at the top of one’s intelligence.

This combination of smart and gut-bustingly funny led a generation of comedic actors and filmmakers — including Judd Apatow (“The 40 Year Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up,” Jay Roach (“Meet the Parents,” the “Austin Powers” movies), Peter Farrelly (“There’s Something About Mary,” “Dumb and Dumber”), Jake Kasdan (“Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,” “Orange County,” both of which featured Ramis in small roles) and Adam Sandler (who starred in his own wacky golf comedy, “Happy Gilmore”) — to cite him as a key inspiration.

“When I was 15, I interviewed Harold for my high school radio station, and he was the person that I wanted to be when I was growing up,” said Apatow, who later would cast Ramis as Seth Rogen’s father in “Knocked Up” and would produce Ramis’ final movie, “Year One” (2009). “His work is the reason why so many of us got into comedy. We grew up on ‘Second City TV‘ and ‘Ghostbusters,’ ‘Vacation,’ ‘Animal House,’ ‘Stripes,’ ‘Meatballs’ (which Ramis co-wrote); he literally made every single one of our favorite movies….

Read more…

Chicagotribune.com

mcaro@tribune.com

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