Most of you should recognize Harold Ramis as Egon Spengler from Ghostbusters, the scientist who has the adorably funny love affair with Annie Potts. Harold Ramis is an often-overlooked person in Hollywood, as he is not just a "funny guy" actor, but a director, writer and producer. He has given us such films as Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, Animal House and of course the Ghostbusters films, which have all collectively reinvented the comedy genre.
Some would argue that Ramis is an auteur, or a director with a distinct flair seen throughout his films. I think this is marked by his choice of actors he consistently chose - Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd were a staple in his films - and the other director he commonly worked with, Ivan Reitman. He has launched the careers of many classic actors including Bill Murray, Rick Moranis, and significantly helped Chevy Chase gain ground in the comedy genre, and served as writer on Second City Television, SCTV, a groundbreaking television show, running from 1976 to 1981. Some of Ramis' great achievements are listed here, in a Yahoo! news article.
Perhaps the greatest development Harold Ramis has been credited with is what his contributions to the development of comedy as a genre has given the world. Such popular films today as The Hangover, or shows like Arrested Development have a comedic flair never seen before Ramis' achievements in the 1980s. Judd Apatow is an example of someone inspired by Ramis who really made it. In fact, Ramis' last acting role was a cameo in Apatow's 2007 comedy, Knocked Up.
Comedy as a genre is always in debate, and most people in film don't take it seriously, no pun intended. But Harold Ramis' successes and contributions are unparelleled and undeniable, and the cinemagraphic achievements of his talents are a staple in American households. Ramis made comedy the genre it is today, and to pay tribute I suggest each of you to take a look at this list of the top films of Ramis.
Movies aren't just entertainment, they represent people's entire lives and in some ways, the people themselves. And it is our duty as willing patrons to cinemas to watch their movies, and take in their message, and respect them for their work.
Harold Ramis is, unfortunately, not a household name. He isn't somebody like Steven Spielberg or James Cameron that everybody instantly recognizes by name and sometimes face, but he is somebody whose films have been seen by nearly everyone in America. He's a representative of somebody that goes underappreciated for his work, but that never stopped him from making an impact.
Ramis played bitparts in most films he fathered, and unfortunately, the public looks at movies for the actors, and occasionally directors, but almost never the writers, editors, producers or behind-the-scenes workers. Ramis has worn each of these hats in his filmmaking career, and yet he is hardly recognized for his diverse talents. I wonder if it is more frustrating to go completely unnoticed, or to only go noticed for your lesser achievements; unfortunately, we'll never really know how Ramis felt about this. But we do know he enjoyed being a jack of all trades.
This interview with Ramis at Believer Magazine took place in March of 2006, and I highly reccommend reading it in its entirety, to fully understand the likability of Ramis and the realism to his nature, because this article highlights the spirit of his utter humanity, and the personable character he was known for having. The most favorable Ramis quote in this article summarizes exactly what his life meant to him, and I think gives us a real insight to what he wanted the world to see him as:
“I want people to say, 'You mean that writer performed a tracheotomy?' That's right, I do everything."
Ramis gave us the phrases and one-liners our culture recognizes instantly, from "TOGA, TOGA, TOGA!" in Animal House or "Don't cross the streams!" in Ghostbusters; direct examples of his cultural impact on American society. He fathered the era of comedy the 1980s brought, and as you said above Brittany, his legacy inspired the comedians we love today, and their directing careers would certainly be different (if not entirely nonexistent) if not for Harold Ramis. The least we can do is acknowledge his contributions and respect his memory. Rest in peace, Egon.
Here is Bill Murray's impromptu, simple, short and perfect homage to his friend Ramis during the 2014 Oscars, just last night, in the category of Best Cinematography in a Major Motion Picture:
Thanks for reading. Farewell, Harold Ramis. Inspiration, hero, innovator, creative genius.