HAROLD RAMIS (1944-2014): Oh, no, this is awful.
Had Harold Ramis never acted, had he never directed, he'd still have been among the most crucial comedic talents of the past half-century: Groundhog Day, Animal House, Caddyshack, Meatballs, Stripes, and Ghostbusters all were authored or co-authored by him. Add in the acting and directing, and what a terrible loss.
"It’s hard for winners to do comedy," he once said. "Comedy is inherently subversive. We represent the underdog as comedy usually speaks for the lower classes. We attack the winners." Nathan Rabin did a career retrospective last year, and noted:
Where Belushi angrily demanded the spotlight, Ramis was and remains an inveterate collaborator. Ramis’ name can be found on many of the best and most beloved comedies of the past 35 years, but they’re almost invariably accompanied by the names of other screenwriters. Similarly, he has acted in several hit films over the years, many of them enormously successful, but it’s telling that Ramis never really starred in a movie. Despite the hit films he’s appeared in, co-written, or directed, there has never been a Harold Ramis vehicle. But he does have a gift for custom-creating vehicles for the John Belushis and Bill Murrays of the world, icons with the kind of electric presence Ramis lacks...
In a comedy (and entertainment) world ruled by ego, Ramis is seemingly content to be the man behind the man, or, particularly during the earlier stages of his career, when he acted more regularly, the man beside the man. He has ascended to the apex of American comedy through an unparalleled gift for harnessing the potential of our culture’s preeminent smartasses, particularly Bill Murray, with whom Ramis shares a long, complicated, and fruitful history.