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Friday, July 25, 2014

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Comic actor and director Harold Ramis dead at 69

Tags: Arts Ghostbusters Groundhog Day Harold Ramis SCTV Second City Stripes
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Harold Ramis, right, in Ghostbusters with co-starts Dan Aykroyd, centre, and Bill Murray

Harold Ramis, an actor, writer and director who had a hand in such iconic comedies as Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters and National Lampoon’s Animal House, has died.

Ramis died Feb. 24 in Chicago from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing Ramis’ wife, Erica. He was 69.

In addition to directing Groundhog Day, Ramis wrote and directed Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation and Analyze This. He also directed episodes of NBC’s The Office.

Earlier in his career, from 1976 to 1979, he was a performer and later head writer on the Toronto-based sketch-comedy show SCTV.

As an actor, his best-known film roles came in Ghostbusters and Stripes, both of which he co-wrote and both with Bill Murray.

Ramis, a Chicago native, graduated from Washington University in St. Louis. He acted in Chicago’s Second City improvisational comedy troupe along with Murray and John Belushi.

He lived in Los Angeles from the late 1970s before returning to Chicago, basing his production company in a Chicago suburb.

Ramis had a Jewish upbringing, and later immersed himself in Zen Buddhism, according to the Chicago Tribune.

He was well known as a Chicago Cubs fan, leading the singing of Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field.

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