Harold Ramis: The Passing Of An Icon

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Harold Ramis
Harold Ramis (Image: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic By Justin Hoch)

How do you memorialize the passing of someone you never knew personally yet you feel like you’ve known your entire life? Last night, we lost one of those people that has probably made almost every one of you reading this laugh. Harold Ramis passed away from complications due to an ongoing battle with an autoimmune disease. He was only sixty nine years old. Far too young for a person who filled the world with so much laughter.

My first memories of Harold Ramis are from Ghostbusters. In addition to his role in the move as Doctor Egon Spengler, Ramis co-wrote the movie. The first time I saw Ghostbusters, I was too young to know it was a comedy and probably hid scared more times than laughed. Over time, this became one of my favorite all-time movies and my favorite character is Doctor Spangler. He was funny in a serious way and the character didn’t know he was funny. He had an expansive knowledge of science and engineering and even had Janine falling for him. How could he NOT be an inspiration to a mid-80’s, geeky, kid. My friends and I used to play Ghostbusters all the time. I had the Proton Pack with the foam noodle coming out. I had the Ghost Trap. I use to ponder the physics of the Containment Unit. I tried to fathom the immensity of that Twinkie. To say that the Ghostbusters and Egon were an early influence on my being the proud geek I am today would be an understatement.

I remember my Dad, an avid golfer, and I watching Caddyshack on TV together. Turns out, that movie was written and directed by Egon…I mean, Harlod Ramis. I can’t tell you the number of times my Dad and I have played golf together and made a Caddyshack reference or just talked about golf and made a Caddyshack reference. There is not a lot in this world that my Dad and I have in common, but Caddyshack is a bond that always, ALWAYS, makes me smile and think of Dad.

Turns out another movie loved by my family was directed by Harold Ramis, National Lampoon’s Vacation. The scenes in that movie are as iconic as any around and can be quoted on the spot by many people I know. Some other movies that are a part of our shared memories:

My senior year of High School, I went to see a movie and had the chance to sit next to the girl that was THAT girl for me in High School. The unrequited love. It starred Helen Hunt, a major crush object. I saw so many movies in High School that they all go by in a blur. I remember going to see As Good As It Gets as clear as if it was last night. BAM, middle of the movie, Harold Ramis. As a Doctor. An awesome and nice Doctor who was one of the people in the movie that really helped restore your faith in humanity.

When my wife and I were in the midst of our first born’s pregnancy, we were huge fan’s of Knocked Up. It made us laugh. We meet Seth Rogen’s character’s dad and it is Harold Ramis. I was giddy. He was a great father figure to this guy and made everyone smile.

As I am writing this and feeling the sadness at the passing of Harold Ramis, I’ve realized, with that last paragraph, what his life truly meant for us all. The smile. He has caused so many smiles and so much happiness in my life that I can’t even begin count them. It would be like trying to comprehend a Twinkie that is thirty five feet long and weighs six hundred pounds. That’s a lot of smiles.

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