Harold Ramis passed away yesterday.
Since then, I’ve been trying to muster up the correct words to convey how I’ve felt about it. I’ve never really had a “beloved celebrity” of mine die before, and in full transparency, when others used to wallow in sadness over the loss of their own, I thought little of it, or quietly criticized them for caring about someone they never met, and putting more emphasis on one person’s death over the countless others that die worldwide every minute. Of course, however, with experience we obtain perspective, and now I understand a whole lot more.
Harold Ramis, if you didn’t know, wrote some of the best comedy films of the 80s and 90s; Stripes, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, and more. He also played the iconic Egon Spengler in the Ghostbusters movies. I grew up on Ghostbusters, I watched the movies so much my cassette tapes wore out. In a time when being smart was seen as a bad thing, the character of Egon was the “eccentric nerd” archetype, but he had a sharp wit just the same as the others, and he was an equal among the other riffraff that called themselves Ghostbusters. Ramis played his role exceptionally well, and that’s how I’ll always remember him – as Doctor Egon Spengler, a guy who busted ghosts while yours truly sat pretzel-legged in front of the television, tightly gripping his own toy PKE meter, cheering them on to take out Gozer and Vigo, and mouthing every line my childhood brain could commit to memory.
My time experiencing Ramis’ work wasn’t just relegated to my childhood, though. As I grew up, I was able to see more of his work, and one in particular had always stuck with me; Groundhog Day. To me, it was a movie that had it all: comedy, romance, heartfelt drama, and just a hint of the supernatural. I love it when work crosses the boundaries of many genres (like how John Woo’s HK flicks are equal parts drama and action), so to find so much in one movie was incredible. The characters had that same sharp wit I loved in Ghostbusters, the humor was sometimes subtle, and the overall message of growing as a person to think of others and find happiness through them was impactful.
In honor of Ramis, last night my girlfriend and I watched Groundhog Day. It was the first time she had seen it, and she understood exactly why I liked it so much, and she said “I can see why it’s a classic”.
Ramis’ work was no small inspiration to my own writing. Dialogue never need be dull, and there’s always room for entertainment in the form of a quip. If you’ve seen any of my work, then you can probably see some of that inspiration. Harold Ramis wasn’t just a hero to my cherubic self from yesteryear, he was an inspiration to what I wanted to do in life; tell stories and entertain others.
I never used to care too much about celebrities passing, but now I understand it. My most heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to Harold Ramis’ family, and to all of his other fans out there. His work will live on through us, in many ways.
Rest in peace, Harold.