Groundhog Day director and Ghostbusters star Harold Ramis dies at 69

Writer, director, producer, and actor Harold Ramis has died at the age of 69 from complications stemming from auto-immune inflammatory vasculitis, Variety reports. Ramis is perhaps best known for his roles as Egon Spengler in both Ghostbusters films, as well his career as a writer/director that spans nearly 35 years and includes 11 feature films.

Ramis started out as a writer for The National Lampoon Radio Hour, which segued into writing The National Lampoon Show on stage. He then began writing and producing the Canadian sketch comedy series  Second City Television – known to most as SCTV – where he also appeared frequently as an actor along with John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, and many other recognizable names. From there he went on to co-write National Lampoon’s Animal House and Meatballs, before co-writing and directing Caddyshack in 1980.

Ramis next directed 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation, further establishing himself as an A-list comedy director. Up to that point, Ramis had earned some fame in his appearances on stage and screen – including a starring role in the 1981 comedy Stripes, alongside Bill Murray. He became a household name in 1984 thanks to his role as Dr. Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters, a film he also co-wrote.

Ramis would reprise his role as Spengler in 1989’s Ghostbusters II, but for the most part he preferred to appear in supporting and cameo roles. While he somewhat eschewed appearing on film, he was prolific behind the camera. His directorial career includes: Groundhog Day, Multiplicity, Analyze This (and its sequel, Analyze That), Bedazzled, and several others.

Ramis’s last film was the 2009 comedy Year One, starring Jack Black and Michael Cera, which he co-wrote, co-produced, and directed.

Ramis had been battling the disease that took his life for the past four years. He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Erica, three children, and two grandchildren.

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