This week brought some incredibly sad news. Harold Ramis — indisputably one of the greatest comedic minds of the 20th century — passed away on February 24th. He was only 69.
Mr. Ramis was one of the archetypes of the modern film comedy. His contributions cannot be overstated. He co-wrote the college classic Animal House, which helped define Jim Belushi as a comedic icon. A year later, he co-wrote the summertime classic Meatballs, Bill Murray’s film debut.
Both movies highlight some of Ramis’ signature themes — underdog heroes, wacky class warfare, rebelling against oppressive bureaucratic rules, and impish humor juxtaposed with moments of surprising humanity.
He co-starred with Murray in Stripes, a significant turning point for Ramis as it marked his first major appearance on the big screen. His chemistry with Murray proved nothing short of spectacular, and it carried over into their next collaboration — a little film about a group of ghost-hunting oddballs that would go on to become the biggest comedy of all time.
I can’t say that Ghostbusters was a big part of my childhood because that’s actually an understatement — Ghostbusters WAS my childhood. I lived and breathed those films. The sheer imagination on display was hypnotic. They, maybe more than anything else, are the reasons why I became a writer.
I owe them a lot, and I owe Mr. Ramis a lot. He didn’t just play the beloved Dr. Egon Spengler, he once again utilized his writing talent – this time with partner Dan Aykroyd – to craft an ingenious story that spoke to an entire generation of kids. The partnership couldn’t have worked out better – Aykroyd came up with the big ideas, Ramis refined them into fully-realized concepts.
I’ve often compared my novel, Legend Trippers, to Ghostbusters. I do that because Legend Trippers owes it’s very existence to those films — I happily stole a whole bunch from them, right down to using a single image as a logo for the paranormal-seeking school club.
If Egon had had a granddaughter, she would be Paige Temple — the brains behind the Legend Trippers, a girl who approaches unbelievable phenomena with the same kind of dead-pan seriousness that was Egon’s trademark. I hope Mr. Ramis would’ve liked the tribute.
As a writer, I would be damn lucky to achieve a fraction of what he accomplished. Thanks again, Harold, and keep those angles laughing.