By Melissa Platero, CCNN Writer
Harold Ramis, the comic genius who could act as easily as write and direct, was beloved for hilarious classics like Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, Bedazzled, and Analyze This. On Tuesday, he passed away at age 69 due to health complications, sending shockwaves through the entertainment industry.
Born in Chicago, Illinois on November 21, 1944, Ramis graduated college and worked at a mental institution in St. Louis for 7 months were they treated people with psychological problems. He said his experiences there “prepared me well for when I went out to Hollywood to work with actors.” Now, while it sounds like he’s just making a joke, Ramis explained, “People laugh when I say that, but it was actually very good training. And not just with actors; it was good training for just living in the world. It’s knowing how to deal with people who might be reacting in a way that’s connected to anxiety or grief or fear or rage. As a director, you’re dealing with that constantly with actors.”
Before his work in the mental institution, Ramis had begun writing plays in college that used comedy to deal with social issues. He said it felt like he was “using… wit as a weapon against the upper classes.” You know, poking fun at the rich and powerful with subtle sarcasm.
As for his professional writing, Ramis did a mix of newspaper journalism and trained with Chicago’s famous comedy program, Second City. Soon, he was editing jokes for the entertainment industry, getting his big break with the radio comedy program The National Lampoon Radio Hour. From there, he wrote a script that eventually became the 1978 hit movie National Lampoon’s Animal House about a rowdy college fraternity house. The rest is history, as hits followed hit after hit.
Featured image courtesy of Sony Pictures Global. Image of Harold Ramis courtesy of Justin Hoch on Wikipedia.