Arts & Entertainment

Harold Ramis, filmmaker and actor of 'Ghostbusters' fame, has died (updated)

Shown in this scene from the 1984 movie
Shown in this scene from the 1984 movie "Ghostbusters" are Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, center, and Harold Ramis.
Shown in this scene from the 1984 movie
Director Harold Ramis attends the Columbia Pictures world premiere of "Year One" at AMC Lincoln Square on June 15, 2009 in New York City. Ramis died Monday morning surrounded by family. He was 69.
Jason DeCrow

Harold Ramis, the actor and filmmaker whose career was marked with numerous hit comedies including "Ghostbusters" and "Groundhog Day," has died.

The Chicago Tribune first reported the death of Ramis, who was a resident of that city, early Monday:

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. He was 69.

Ramis was an alumnus of the skit show SCTV who wrote classic comedies "Animal House," "Caddyshack," "Meatballs" and "Stripes" before going on to write and co-star in "Ghostbusters," which according to the Tribune went on to become one of the highest-grossing comedies of all time.

Bill Murray, who worked with Ramis on many films and projects, said in a statement (according to the Hollywood Reporter):

"Harold Ramis and I together did the National Lampoon show off-Broadway, 'Meatballs,' 'Stripes,' 'Caddyshack,' 'Ghostbusters' and 'Groundhog Day.' He earned his keep on this planet. God bless him."

In his own brief statement, actor Dan Aykroyd — who co-starred in and co-wrote "Ghostbusters" with Ramis — called Ramis his "brilliant, gifted, funny, friend, co-writer/performer and teacher." He ended the statement with his hope that Ramis might "now get the answers he was always seeking," The Associated Press reported.

Aykroyd and Ramis knew each other for years. They both were alums of the famed Chicago comedy troupe, Second City, the AP reported.

Ivan Reitman, who directed the legendary comedian in "Ghostbusters," told KPCC there was something different about Ramis.

Reitman said he remembers a time when they were working on a test show in front of a live audience. When it came time for the second show of the night, the patrons didn't leave the venue for the second group to come in. They couldn't use the same jokes, so Ramis just rewrote a whole new show.

"Harold just said, 'No, let's just do it again, but let's just change every punch line.' Which was every second or third line. And they took the show, the same premises, and they just created something new — boom! — just like that. And it was really the most remarkable display of comedic talent I'd ever seen," Reitman said.

Others recalled Ramis' unique brand of humor as an actor. Referring to Ramis' turn as brainy Ghostbuster Dr. Egon Spengler, Entertainment Weekly's Anthony Breznican told Take Two, "He had a very professorial presence, and Egon was perfect for him, because he was brilliant."

Ramis was sophisticated and literate, and he channeled those qualities into many of these "straight man" roles, Breznican said.

"He could cut loose, but he played straight men in a way that made them funny. Egon is so straight that he's actually all bent up and so many memorable lines from that character, and I think that's his most famous role. But if he had depended on acting he would have been pretty frustrated. Too many characters lived inside of him. He poured them all into his movies" through his writing, Breznican said.

Here are a few clips demonstrating both his stints as an actor and as a writer of witty, memorable scenes:

'Ghostbusters' clip: 'Print is dead.'

'Ghostbusters' clip: 'Don't cross the streams.'

'Stripes' clip: 'Da Do Run Run'

'Meatballs' clip: 'It just doesn't matter!' speech

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This story has been updated.

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