Harold Ramis

November 21, 1944 – February 24, 2014

Every so often, I come across a post that I dread writing. Usually it’s because it features the life – and death, naturally – of someone I regard very highly. This is one of those posts. At any given moment, if you ask me what my favorite movie is, somewhere north of 2/3 of the time my answer will be the 1984 classic Ghostbusters. The characters in that movie were giants to me as a kid and Egon Spengler was always, always my favorite. Egon was, of course, played by legendary actor/writer/director Harold Ramis…who also wrote the movie.

Ramis got his start in Chicago, where he was born and raised. He studied theatre and literature at Washington University in St. Louis and returned to Chicago after college to try his hand at freelance writing for various local newspapers. He landed a job editing jokes for Playboy magazine and began studying with the Second City improv troupe. Along with fellow Second City-er, John Belushi, Ramis also joined the New York-based National Lampoon Show where the pieces that would shape Ramis’ career began to form. Through Second City and National Lampoon, he worked with fellow future greats like Belushi, Gilda Radner, Christopher Guest, John Candy and Ramis’ most frequent collaborator: Bill Murray.

Ramis eventually became the head writer on Second City’s Canadian television sketch show, SCTV. While his connections to National Lampoon led him to co-write – with Lampoon’s founder, Doug Kenney – the group’s first feature film: National Lampoon’s Animal House. It was a huge success and led to follow-up hits like Meatballs and Stripes – both with Murray. Ramis made his directorial debut with the 1980 classic Caddyshack…which he also wrote. He went on to direct other well-loved comedies like National Lampoon’s Vacation and Groundhog Day. And he wrote many, many more hits like Back to School and – as mentioned above – Ghostbusters and its 1989 sequel. His screenplay for Groundhog Day won a BAFTA award in 1993.

In addition to writing and directing, he acted in nearly two dozen films. During the making of Groundhog Day, Ramis and Murray had a falling out. Years later, Murray was persuaded to bury the hatchet and visited Ramis, who was, by then, suffering from an autoimmune vascular disease that had compromised his mobility and speech. Ramis died from complications of the disease in 2014 at the age of 69. At the time of this post, two additional sequels to Ghostbusters have been made. Ramis made posthumous appearances in each (as a bronze bust and as a ghost…”Ghost””Bust”er…sorry) and both were dedicated to his memory.

Burial

Shalom Memorial Park – Arlington Heights, IL

Specific Location

Section 14B Mamre – Enter the park and drive past the chapel/office until you reach the large circle road in the middle, then stay to the right all the way to the back (northeast) corner of the park. Stop at the marker for Section “14B Mamre” and Harold is buried all the way to your right in this section at the tree line.

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