Ghostbusters star Harold Ramis has died at 69.
The actor and director—best known for his role as Egon Spengler in the 1984 comedy, which he also wrote, with Dan Aykroyd—passed away in the early hours of Monday morning, February 24, after suffering autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis for a number of years.
Although he is best remembered on-screen for his roles in Ghostbusters and its 1989 sequel, Harold had been a leading figure in comedy since the ’70s, directing Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, and National Lampoon’s Vacation.
He also co-wrote the iconic 1978 film National Lampoon’s Animal House, and later 1999s Analyze This and 2002s Analyze That, starring Robert De Niro, which he also directed.
Harold continued to act in recent years, with parts in Knocked Up, Airheads, and Oscar-winner As Good As it Gets.
He also directed episodes of the US version of The Office for network NBC.
Harold had been a member of improvisation group Second City in his native Chicago, where he met John Belushi and Bill Murray, whom he would later go on to work closely with.
Harold said his work had been inspired by the Marx brothers and a job he briefly held working at a mental institution in Missouri.
He said: "It prepared me for when I went out to Hollywood to work with actors. And not just with actors. It was good training for just living in the world."
Harold is survived by his wife, Erica Mann Ramis; their two sons, Julian and Daniel; as well as his daughter, Violet Ramis, with former spouse Anne Plotkin.
TRIBUTES. Meanwhile, Dan Aykroyd led tributes to his Ghostbusters co-star Harold Ramis.
Dan said in an email message: "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."
Ivan Reitman, director of the two Ghostbuster movies, also paid tribute, saying: "The world has lost a wonderful, truly original, comedy voice with the passing of Harold Ramis.
"He possessed the most agile mind I’ve ever witnessed. He always had the clearest sense of what was funny and how to create something in a new clever way ... Harold had an extraordinary impact on my career and I loved him like a brother."
Billy Crystal wrote on Twitter: "Sad to hear my friend Harold Ramis passed away. A brilliant, funny, actor and director. A wonderful husband and dad. Big loss to us all."
Steven Martin tweeted: "So sorry to hear about the death of Harold Ramis, a comedy master. Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, and more."
Film director Ron Howard also paid tribute, saying: "Harold Ramis RIP. no one could ever top him in terms of somehow being Cool & off-the-charts creative and incredibly kind & gracious."
Some of Harold’s last work was directing episodes of the US version of The Office, prompting one of the show’s stars, Rainn Wilson, to write: "Was honored to have gotten to work with Harold Ramis, the Buddha of Comedy. Brilliant, humble, radiant. We’ve lost an icon."
Another one of the show’s former stars, Steve Carell, wrote: "Harold Ramis. Funny, gracious, kind hearted. A joy to have known you."