Today, we lost a master of comedy.
Actor, writer, director and producer Harold Ramis, who got his start on the sketch comedy show SCTV (which also included John Candy, Rick Moranis, Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara), passed away this morning from a rare immune deficiency disease.
Ramis was a genius at crafting iconic characters in incredibly zany and hilarious films that have undoubtedly become modern classics. Although he acted in a lot of his own stuff, he was probably best well-known for his work behind the cameras as a writer and director, leaving an indelible mark on the eighties and early nineties. His genius was in creating believable characters thrown into outrageous situations, and he did it with the lightest of touches and the keenest of eyes of any comedy writer/director ever. Films such as National Lampoon’s Vacation, Animal House and Back To School all defined what comedy would be for a generation.
But it was his firendship and collaborations with Bill Murray that will have left the biggest impression on the history of cinema. From Meatballs to Stripes, Caddyshack to Ghostbusters, the pair will always be remembered (at least for me) as one of the greatest teams in modern comedy. Their rapport was genuinely easy going and their friendship was apparent on screen. From what they were able to accomplish together, it was clear that they had the same comic timing and sensibilities, which allowed Ramis to write for Murray with such ease and give us some terrific and memorable characters, as well as one of the most influential comedies of all time in Groundhog Day.
But this wouldn’t be a true in memoriam without mentioning the greatness that is Multiplicity, one of Ramis’ most overlooked comedies. Directing Michael Keaton in four very distinct and different roles as clones of an overworked contractor, Ramis delivered a film that had just the right touch of comedy, sweetness and insanity — the mark of almost every film he wrote and/or directed. It was an amalgamation of who I imagine Ramis was as a husband, father and friend.
We will always remember Harold Ramis for what he contributed to the world of comedy and cinema, and my heart and prayers go out to those who knew him well and loved him dearly.
He will be missed.