The Chicago Tribune reports that comedy actor, writer and director Harold Ramis is dead today at the age of 69. According to his family, Ramis had been ill for many years with autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare condition that causes swelling of the blood vessels. It was a relapse of the disease that led to Ramis’s death.
Ramis had a show business career that stretched many decades. He was the director of comedy classics Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, and Groundhog’s Day, and wrote the scripts for dozens of popular films, including eighties supernatural comedy Ghostbusters, which remains popular today. Ghostbusters fans will, of course, know Ramis for his starring role in the film as egghead scientist Dr. Egon Spengler.
Ramis began his career studying and performing with the Second City comedy troupe in Chicago, where he worked alongside Saturday Night Live star John Belushi. After leaving to work with National Lampooon’s on a television project, Ramis returned to the Second City to become a writer and actor on Second City TV, a groundbreaking program that launched the careers of many well-known comedy greats like John Candy, Martin Short, Joe Flaherty and Eugene Levy. Departing from Second City once more, Ramis went on to establish a career as a successful movie writer and director.
Ramis always seemed open to the idea of a new Ghostbusters film, and had mentioned during press events to promote his 2009 film Year One that there was a rough draft of a new screenplay in the works. He had also lent his likeness and voice to a 2009 Ghostbusters video game. With Ramis gone, that leaves Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson keeping the flame burning for a new film. Bill Murray, at least in the past, has been reluctant to commit one way or the other. That’s presuming that a new film would require the original cast at all. A reboot could certainly be an option Hollywood might look at. In the meantime, Ghostbusters fandom remains alive and well, with costumed fans making regular appearances at conventions and supporting spin-off products like games and comic books.