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©Reuters / Harold Ramis
© Reuters / Harold Ramis
Harold Ramis, comedy great behind 'Ghostbusters,' 'Groundhog Day,' dead at 69
By Josh Dickey

Harold Ramis, the Chicago comedic writer, director and actor whose films "Stripes," "Caddyshack," "Animal House," "Groundhog Day" and "Ghostbusters" are among the most beloved -- and successful -- of all time, has died. He was 69.

Ramis died overnight of complications from auto-immune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that causes swelling of the blood vessels. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by family and friends at his Chicago-area home, where he returned to live in 1996 after 20 years in Los Angeles, according to a statement from UTA, which repped him.

From films to TV and improv, Ramis' contributions cannot be overstated. His breakthrough came in 1978 with a co-writing credit on the blockbuster comedy "National Lampoon's Animal House," and he got on a roll from there, writing 1979's "Meatballs" and making his directorial debut in 1980 with "Caddyshack," which he also co-wrote, and which still stands as one of the most quoted comedies of all time.

See photos: Hollywood's Notable Deaths of 2014

Born to shopkeepers on Chicago's north side, Ramis began writing plays in college in St. Louis, where he worked at a mental institution for seven months -- often saying that the experience prepared him well for Hollywood (one of the few times he wasn't trying to be funny: "People laugh when I say that, but it was actually very good training," he said.)

He returned to Chicago in 1968, freelancing entertainment features for local newspapers before he began studying and performing with the now-famed Second City improvisational comedy troupe.

Ramis is survived by his wife Erica, sons Julian and Daniel, daughter Violet and two grandchildren

Feb 24, 2014 11:24AM
What a huge loss ... The man has made me laugh so many times, .

This is devastating!  And with him, may the Ghostbuster rest with him.  A lot of us were hoping for a part 3.

Feb 24, 2014 11:43AM
Harold Ramis was awesome!  He will be missed.  RIP
Feb 24, 2014 12:02PM

I sincerely appreciate the countless hours of entertainment Mr. Harold Ramis has given the world with his brilliant comedic talent.

Harold Ramis you are deeply missed

Feb 24, 2014 11:59AM
So sad to read this.  He was such an awesome "straight man" .  Always made me crack up.  Meatballs was one of my all time favorite movies from my youth.  Lot's of valuable life lessons amidst all the silliness. 
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