Not just a Ghostbuster: A look back at Harold Ramis' filmmaking career

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by CBS News & AP

The Associated Press

Posted on February 25, 2014 at 8:58 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 25 at 11:37 AM

Harold Ramis, the filmmaker behind "Caddyshack" and "Groundhog Day" and a star in "Ghostbusters," has died. He was 69.

Ramis died early Monday morning at his Chicago-area home surrounded by family and friends, United Talent Agency confirmed to CBS News. He died from complications related to auto-immune inflammatory vasculitis, a condition he battled for the past four years.

A writer, director and actor, Ramis portrayed Dr. Egon Spengler in the 1984 classic, "Ghostbusters," a film he helped co-write. He also spent much of his career behind the camera -- co-writing the "Meatballs" and the blockbuster comedy "National Lampoon's Animal House" and directing such films as "National Lampoon's Vacation," "Analyze This," "Analyze That" and, more recently, a few episodes of "The Office." In 2009, he directed "Year One," starring Jack Black and Michael Cera -- his most recent directorial work.

His other acting credits include "Stripes," "Knocked Up," "The Last Kiss" and "As Good as it Gets."

Ramis was the recipient of the American Comedy Award, the British Comedy Award, and the BAFTA award for screenwriting.

Born in Chicago, Ramis received a bachelor’s degree from Washington University and began his career in 1969 at Chicago’s Second City improvisational theater group. In 1976, he became head writer for the Canadian-based comedy series "Second City Television," or "SCTV."

In addition to his wife, Erica, Ramis is survived by sons Julian and Daniel, daughter Violet and two grandchildren.

Here are five smash comedies created in part by Ramis, who died Sunday at age 69:

— "Animal House": Fond of quoting from this all-time frat house favorite? Chances are you're quoting at least something written by Ramis, who worked on the screenplay with Douglas Kenney and Chris Miller.

— "Caddyshack": Another classic that fans can recite from memory. Give Ramis a lot of the credit. He was the director and collaborated on the script with Kenney and Brian Doyle-Murray for this comic showcase for Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Chevy Chase and Ramis' pal Bill Murray as Carl Spackler, golf's most dangerous groundskeeper.

— "Ghostbusters": He was Dr. Egon Spengler, the quiet Ghostbuster alongside Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray in one of the biggest hits of the 1980s. He also wrote the screenplay along with Aykroyd and an uncredited Rick Moranis.

— "Stripes": Another high point for Murray watchers, with Ramis co-starring as a fellow military recruit and assisting on the script.

— "Groundhog Day": This unforgettable comedy about a weatherman who lives through the same day over and over was a breakthrough for Murray as an actor and stands 20 years later as a pop culture fixture. And Ramis, once again, helped make it happen. He directed and co-wrote the script with Danny Rubin.

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