Today we mourn the loss of writer/actor/director Harold Ramis, who died at age 69. Ramis began by writing and editing at Playboy Magazine, then based in Chicago. In 1969, he joined the famous improvisational sketch comedy group, Second City, and then moved to New York to help write and perform in “The National Lampoon Show” with other Second City graduates including John Belushi, Gilda Radner, and Bill Murray.
He became head writer and a regular performer on the top Canadian comedy series SCTV, and first went to Hollywood to work on National Lampoon’s Animal House, a transformational film that pioneered a new generation of comedy writers and performers. Ramis then wrote, directed, and/or appeared in comedy classics including Meatballs, Stripes, and Ghostbusters. He was working on a reboot of “Ghostbusters” as he was recovering from the effects of a rare autoimmune disease. A relapse in 2011 was too severe to overcome.
Ramis was a devoted Chicagoan and the city was proud of his loyalty and grateful for the productions he brought there. The Chicago Tribune quoted him:
“There’s a pride in what I do that other people share because I’m local, which in L.A. is meaningless; no one’s local,” Ramis said upon the launch of the first movie he directed after his move, the 1999 mobster-in-therapy comedy “Analyze This,” another hit. “It’s a good thing. I feel like I represent the city in a certain way.”
I believe his best movie was Groundhog Day, starring his friend and “Stripes” co-star, Bill Murray. Here he talks about its deeper meaning.
But when I think of Ramis, I will always remember the role I think was the most true to his real character, the kind-hearted, slightly shy doctor in “As Good as It Gets.” He will be missed.