In Memoriam: Harold Ramis

After a lengthy battle, Harold Ramis passed away from complications due to vasculitis on Monday in his Chicago home. The 69 year old actor, writer and director will for ever be remembered for his numerous works, including Ghostbusters, Caddyshack, Groundhog day, and the film that would, for many, redefine college and Dartmouth: Animal House. 

Ramis began his career writing comedic plays in college, and later moved to the Chicago area and became involved in an improvised comedy group that included John Belushi and Bill Murray, and would later graduate the likes of Chris Farley and Mike Myers. The 1978 film “Animal House” would prove to be turning point for Ramis. The film, which was partially based on co-writer Chris Miller’s time here at Dartmouth, was one of the most commercially successful comedies of all time, earning over $141 million in the box office. Part of this success was due to Ramis’s background in improv. Speaking to The New Yorker, screenwriter Dennis Klein summed it up by saying “Sloppiness is a key part of improv, and Harold brought that to Hollywood, rescuing comedies from their smooth, polite perfection.” 

Following “Animal House”, Ramis built on his success, releasing “Caddyshack” in 1980, marking the writer’s directorial debut. In 1984 he both co-wrote and starred in the hit “Ghost Busters”, and in 1993 wrote and directed “Groundhog Day”. More recently, he directed the 2009 film “Year One”. 

Ramis helped define a new generation of comedy in film. He produced classics that are still watched today, and decades later they still resonate with people. After his passing, several of the actors, writers, and directors that worked with him spoke fondly of their friend and colleague, and cited him as source of inspiration for their careers. Even Bill Murray, despite a falling out with Ramis after “Groundhog Day”, had high praise for him, saying in a statement to Time Magazine that “He [Ramis] earned his keep on this planet. God bless him.” 

In his passing, perhaps we should all take some time to remember a man who redefined comedy for generations of young adults, a man who has indirectly touched and influenced the lives of all on Dartmouth’s campus, and a man who, at one point or another, has probably made almost all of us laugh. 

-Sam Hatcher ’17

  • glen broemer

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