Without Harold Ramis, comedy would not be what it is today. A prolific director, writer, and comedian, Ramis is responsible for films ranging from Caddyshack to Groundhog Day. Joining The Second City in 1969, he would help set the tone for an entire generation of comic performers who were as hilarious as they were radical. Prior to his decade-spanning film career, he wrote and performed for The National Lampoon Show and SCTV. He went on to write Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, and many more; he directed and acted in many of these films as well. His career is a list of every comedian’s dream; in 2015, The Second City created the Harold Ramis Film School in his honor.
Ramis grew up in Chicago, and joined The Second City in 1969 after writing freelance and jokes for the Chicago Daily News and Playboy. The shows he wrote and performed in became much more overtly political than in the past, and after leaving for a small period of time, he returned in 1972. Here, Ramis performed alongside John Belushi, who eventually brought him on to work on The National Lampoon Show with fellow Second City alum Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, and Joe Flaherty. When SCTV premiered, Ramis was the head writer, along with a main actor.
After his time on SCTV, Ramis paired with Douglas Kenney to write National Lampoon’s Animal House, which catapulted John Belushi to stardom. His next writing vehicle was Meatballs, which was the beginning of his comedic partnership with Bill Murray. Next up was his directorial debut, Caddyshack, which he also wrote, and was a huge success. In 1981, he wrote and acted in Stripes, his third film alongside Murray. Ramis directed National Lampoon’s Vacation before focusing his efforts on Ghostbusters, co-writing the final script with Dan Aykroyd and co-starring with Aykroyd and Murray. The film was a massive success, and led to a sequel that Ramis also co-wrote and co-starred in.
Additional films that Ramis wrote include Back To School, Armed and Dangerous, Analyze This, and more, including Groundhog Day, which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay. Along with directing Groundhog Day, he helmed the films Analyze This, The Ice Harvest, Year One, and more, along with guest directing episodes of The Office. Ramis has also acted in various films aside from his roles in Ghostbusters and Stripes, with small roles in the films Baby Boom, As Good As It Gets, The Last Kiss, Knocked Up, and more. His impact on comedy is insurmountable, and his legacy lives on in both film and television.