Harold Ramis, best known for appearing in “Ghostbusters” and directing comedic films “Groundhog Day,” “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” and “Caddyshack,” died at the age of 69 early Monday.
Ramis died from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, which is a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels, according to his wife Erica Mann.
A Chicago native, Ramis moved back to his hometown area with his family in 1996. “I feel like I represent the city in a certain way,” he said.
In 2010 Ramis began having health problems following an infection that ultimately caused his rare condition.
A true comedy Renaissance man, Ramis was a powerful influence in his field, writing the 1978 classic “Animal House,” writing and appearing in the 1984 hit “Ghostbusters,” and writing and directing the 1999 award-winning comedy “Analyze This” (as well as the 2002 followup “Analyze That”).
Ramis’ roots in humor date back to his college years at Washington University in St. Louis, when he wrote parodies for the stage. After graduating, he moved back to Chicago. And by the early ’70s he was sharing the stage at Second City with John Belushi and other fellow collaborators, also launching skit comedy show “SCTV.” In 1974, Ramis, Belushi, and Bill Murray moved to New York with other performers from the famed Chicago comedy troupe to do “The National Lampoon Radio Hour.”
Ramis’ big-screen break came when he wrote the seminal 1978 frat house comedy “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” starring Belushi. From there, Ramis wrote 1979′s “Meatballs,” starring his other creative collaborator, Bill Murray — with whom he would go on to “Caddyshack,” “Stripes,” “Ghostbusters,” and “Groundhog Day.”
Ramis’ signature style that mixes both ludicrous and insightful humor has influenced a generation of artists. “Meet the Parents” director Jay Roach has cited Ramis’ impact on him along with Adam Sandler, and Peter and Bobby Farrelly (“Dumb and Dumber,” “There’s Something About Mary”). The late actor-writer-director also influenced Judd Apatow, who cast Ramis in memorable roles in “Knocked Up” and “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.”
Ramis leaves behind his wife, Erica Mann, and three children.
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