Harold Ramis, Comedy Legend, Passes Away at 69

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Harold Ramis, who spent over 30 years as a writer, actor and director, passed away early Monday morning due to complications from a rare autoimmune disease called Inflammatory Vasculitis. He was 69 years old.

Mr. Ramis started his career in the 1960s as a joke editor for Playboy magazine. He cut his teeth in Chicago's Second City Improv group where he made a realization about his career. "The moment I knew I wouldn't be any huge comedy star was when I got on stage with John Belushi for the first time. When I saw how far he was willing to go to get a laugh or to make a point on stage, the language he would use, how physical he was, throwing himself literally off the stage, taking big falls, strangling other actors, I thought: I'm never going to be this big. How could I ever get enough attention on a stage with guys like this?" He added, "I stopped being the zany. I let John be the zany. I learned that my thing was lobbing in great lines here and there, which would score big and keep me there on the stage."

He served as the first head writer for the sketch comedy television program SCTV for two years. And then he seemed to find comedy gold in almost every Hollywood screenplay he penned.

Ramis is considered one of the most successful comedy writers ever. He wrote (and often co-starred and directed) hit after hit for the Hollywood big screen. Some of his biggest films include: Animal House, Stripes, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Back to School, Meatballs, Groundhog Day and Analyze This. In recent years, Ramis once again made a return to television, directing four episodes of the hit NBC comedy The Office.

A Harold Ramis comedy was almost always over the top. They were often funny in a wild, inane, frat guy sort of way. He worked with many great comedic talents such as Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfield, and Billy Crystal to name just a few. Old pal and Ghostbusters co-star Dan Aykroyd spoke of his passing. "Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my brilliant, gifted, funny friend, co-writer-performer and teacher Harold Ramis. May he now get the answers he was always seeking.”

Ramis has been suffering with Vasculitis since 2010. The autoimmune disease inflames blood vessels in the body and can result in pain and swelling. Ramis suffered an infection in May 2010 that sparked the disease. He is survived by his wife, Erica Mann Ramis, and three children.

Image via Wikimedia

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