Comedy filmmaker Harold Ramis - famous for movies such as Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day and Animal House - has died.
Ramis died aged 69, surrounded by family at his Chicago home, from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels, his wife Erica Mann Ramis said.
His health struggles had started in 2010 with an infection that led to complications related to the autoimmune disease, his wife said.
Ramis' work included writing credits on comedies such as National Lampoon's Animal House, Stripes and Ghostbusters - in which Ramis also co-starred, plus directing efforts including Caddyshack, National Lampoon's Vacation, Groundhog Day and Analyze This, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Ramis started his career writing arts stories for a local newspaper and editing Playboy magazine's party jokes section.
He moved to Chicago improvisational theatre troupe Second City, then went to New York to help write and perform in The National Lampoon Show with other Second City stars including John Belushi and Bill Murray. Murray went on to collaborate with Ramis on six films.
Ramis' comedies were often wild, silly and tilting toward anarchy, but also cerebral and iconoclastic, the Chicago Tribune said.
Ramis also heeded the Second City edict to work at the top of one's intelligence. He was cited by a generation of comedic actors, including Judd Apatow, Peter Farrelly, Jake Kasdan, and Adam Sandler, as a key inspiration.
It was while at Second City in the early 1970s that Ramis realised something important.
"The moment I knew I wouldn't be any huge comedy star was when I got on stage with John Belushi for the first time," he said in a 1999 Tribune interview.
"When I saw how far he was willing to go to get a laugh or to make a point on stage, the language he would use, how physical he was, throwing himself literally off the stage, taking big falls, strangling other actors, I thought: 'I'm never going to be this big. How could I ever get enough attention on a stage with guys like this?'"
- © Fairfax NZ News
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