When you think of Harold Ramis, what do you see? Do you see the man who directed the timeless comedy Groundhog Day? Or do you see the man who wrote Meatballs, Caddyshack & Stripes? Some of you of an older persuasion may even see his roles from SCTV from the 70’s. To me though, Harold Ramis will always be Dr. Egon Spengler, the brains of the Ghostbusters and the straight man to many a Bill Murray role. Whatever role you see him in; actor, director or writer Ramis was clearly a man of many talents, and it was with a sad heart that his death was reported on February 24th 2014 due to complications from a disease known as autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis.
Ramis had kept his condition largely out of the press, and so it came as somewhat of a shock to see the headlines reporting his untimely passing on Monday night. On a personal level, I can’t begin to tell you the sadness I felt seeing that headline, realising that one of my childhood and adulthood heroes had left us. It still doesn’t feel right to be talking about Ramis in the past tense, and that will take some adjusting for anyone who grew up as a fan of his work.
Once you take a look through his filmography you really begin to realise what a sterling career he had. Even if you just cherry pick a few, there are movies in that list that any actor would be proud of.
For many, Ramis’s masterpiece was Groundhog Day, a film which he wrote, directed and produced. It was, unfortunately, the last time he would work with his friend and colleague Bill Murray, as the pair continually disagreed on what direction the movie should head in. Whatever Murray’s thoughts on the movie, Ramis clearly knew exactly what the movie should be and went about crafting one of the finest comedies ever.
The work he has left us with is a fine legacy of unique comedy. Work that has influenced many an actor today and brought joy to countless people over the years. Some of his later work may not have had the same zip that his earlier work did, but that can easily be forgiven when you have been a part of the fabric of Hollywood comedy since the late 1970’s. It is a shame then that we will never see another piece of work to feature the talents of Ramis ever again.
His deadpan delivery and his ability to craft believable, loveable characters were his greatest strengths. His quick mind and generous, laid back nature endeared him to audiences, leaving an indelible mark on any movie he was a part of. Harold Ramis will be sorely missed, his work however, will live on and that is something we should all be grateful for.