/AJT/ Harold Ramis
Chicago-born actor/director Harold Ramis – known for co-writing the “Ghostbusters” movies (in which he played Dr. Egon Spengler) as well as directing such comedy titles as “Caddyshack” and “Groundhog Day” – has passed away at the age of 69. Ramis died from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels. In 2010 Ramis began having health problems following an infection that ultimately caused his rare condition. Ramis was a towering influence in Hollywood with a streak of hits that stretched from the 1978 classic “Animal House,” which he wrote, to 1984’s blockbuster “Ghostbusters,” for which he wrote and starred, up to the 1999 hit “Analyze This,” which, like the 2002 follow-up “Analyze That,” he wrote and directed. Ramis attended Washington University in St. Louis, where he earned a degree in English after dropping from pre-med. He went on to work as a substitute teacher as well as a freelance journalist in Chicago where he lived with his wife. Ramis met John Belushi and Bill Murray after being assigned to cover the Second City improve troupe. Thus began his career in comedy writing, leading to a job on the “National Lampoon Radio Hour.” Ramis’s big-screen break came when he wrote the seminal 1978 frat-house comedy “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” From there, Ramis penned 1979’s “Meatballs,” starring his other creative collaborator, Murray — their fruitful team-ups included “Caddyshack,” “Stripes,” “Ghostbusters,” and “Groundhog Day.” Ramis leaves behind his wife, Erica Mann, his daughter, Violet, his sons Julian and Daniel, and two grandchildren.