Harold Ramis, comedy great behind 'Ghostbusters,' 'Groundhog Day,' dead at 69
Harold Ramis, the Chicago comedic writer, director and actor whose films "Stripes," "Caddyshack," "Animal House," "Groundhog Day" and "Ghostbusters" are among the most beloved -- and successful -- of all time, has died. He was 69.
Ramis died overnight of complications from auto-immune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that causes swelling of the blood vessels. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by family and friends at his Chicago-area home, where he returned to live in 1996 after 20 years in Los Angeles, according to a statement from UTA, which repped him.
From films to TV and improv, Ramis' contributions cannot be overstated. His breakthrough came in 1978 with a co-writing credit on the blockbuster comedy "National Lampoon's Animal House," and he got on a roll from there, writing 1979′s "Meatballs" and making his directorial debut in 1980 with "Caddyshack," which he also co-wrote, and which still stands as one of the most quoted comedies of all time.
Born to shopkeepers on Chicago's north side, Ramis began writing plays in college in St. Louis, where he worked at a mental institution for seven months -- often saying that the experience prepared him well for Hollywood (one of the few times he wasn't trying to be funny: "People laugh when I say that, but it was actually very good training," he said.)
He returned to Chicago in 1968, freelancing entertainment features for local newspapers before he began studying and performing with the now-famed Second City improvisational comedy troupe.
Ramis is survived by his wife Erica, sons Julian and Daniel, daughter Violet and two grandchildren