Articles & Notes — February 24, 2014 at 10:45 pm

“Ghostbuster” Harold Ramis dies at 69

harold-ramisHarold Ramis, the “Ghostbusters” actor, and director of “Groundhog Day”, has died on February 24. He was 69.

Ramis had been suffering from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis for several years.

Ramis, a longtime North Shore resident, was surrounded by family when he died at 12:53 a.m. from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels, his wife Erica Mann Ramis said.

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.”

Born in Chicago, Ramis worked as a teacher and journalist before teaming up with comedians John Belushi and Bill Murray for the wildly successful National Lampoon Radio Hour in 1973.

The crew later branched out into film with National Lampoon’s Animal House in 1978. Following Belushi’s death from a drug overdose, Ramis and Murray went onto star alongside Dan Ackroyd in the 1984 hit Ghostbusters.

Ramis made his directing debut with 1980’s Caddyshack, though his best-loved picture remains 1993’s Groundhog Day, starring Murray as a self-absorbed TV weatherman. In 2006 the comedy was added to the US National Film Registry as a “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” work of cinema.

Ramis enjoyed another box office hit in with the 1999 Mafia comedy Analyse This, starring Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro. On screen he appeared in Knocked Up, Year One and the Oscar-winning As Good As it Gets.

At the peak of his success, Ramis would claim that his anarchic, freewheeling comic style was inspired both by an early love of the Marx brothers and a brief, post-college job working at a Missouri mental institution.

“It prepared me for when I went out to Hollywood to work with actors,” he explained. “And not just with actors. It was good training for just living in the world.”

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