Harold Ramis -Bio, Feud, Career, Cause of Death

Filmmakers, Male Actors
Harold Ramis

Harold Ramis was a writer, director, producer and actor in his time. In the nearly forty years in which he was active he made memorable films so that when he passed away, presidents paused at their desk, take time off their crazy schedules to write kind words about the life he had lived and the career he had had. Here are all the facts you need to know about him.

Harold Ramis – birth and early life

Harold Ramis Ramis was born  Harold Allen Ramis on November 21, 1944, in Chicago, Illinois. He was born to Ruth (née Cokee) and Nathan Ramis, both of whom owned a  convenience store and raised their son in the Jewish faith – a religion he dropped as an adult. He studied at Stephen K. Hayt Elementary School and Nicholas Senn High School all in Chicago, then at the Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Ramis’s growth into adulthood coincided with the Vietnam War. He refused to enlist by playing a trick on recruiters. He would take methamphetamine which made him fail draft tests. During university, Ramis wrote a lot of parody plays, regarding his writing as a weapon against the upper class. While these plays didn’t get staged, they were preparing him for a lifetime as a writer.

After university, Ramis wrote freelance for the Chicago Daily News, under the Arts & Leisure section. From here, he made it to Playboy magazine as a joke story editor. At this stage, he was also an active member and performer with the Second City improvisational comedy troupe.

Harold Ramis family

Harold Ramis was a father and a husband. His first marriage was in 1967 to Anne Plotkin an artist from San Francisco. The marriage produced a daughter named Violet Ramis Stiel. And ended in divorce in 1984.

In 1989, Ramis got married to Erica Mann the occasional actress with two credits to her name. She also has credits as a behind-the-camera member of the crew. She was, in 1986, the assistant to Harold Ramis during the shooting of the “Club Paradise”. This might be where the two fell in love and eventually got married in three years’ time. This marriage made Harold the son-in-law of the TV director Daniel Mann and the actress Mary Kathleen Williams. The union produced two kids, all sons, named Julian Arthur and Daniel Hayes.

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The marriage between Harold and Erica ended in 2014 when the former passed away. Erica is a Buddhist and this was one of the strongest influences on Harold Ramis’s philosophies. Ramis has a fourth child. Actually, it was the second as the child was born to him between the time he left Anne Plotkin and before he met Erica. He was lovers with director Amy Heckerling and this produced a daughter in 1986 whom Amy named Mollie Heckerling. Heckerling was married at that time and for a long time, poor Mollie thought Neal Israel her mother’s then-husband was her biological father.

Most publications do not count Neal as part of Ramis’s children. The will Ramis left behind might not agree with them.

Harold Ramis – career and beef with Bill Murray

Harold Ramis’s CV includes working for seven months in a mental institution in St. Louis. He would later count his time in the mental home as a preparation for his career in Hollywood. Because “it’s knowing how to deal with people who might be reacting in a way that’s connected to anxiety or grief or fear or rage.”

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Harold Ramis’s comedy career began on radio in “The National Lampoon Radio Hour”. He contributed to the writing of this show. After this, in 1976, he began to write for the Second City Television or SCTV, the Canadian comedy show. He wrote and sometimes performed for them up till 1979. And in this time, he turned down the offer to write for Saturday Night Life at least once.

Harold has acted but he is known more for his filmmaking roles. For the acting aspect, he is most recognized as Egon Spengler, an awkward science addict in the “Ghostbuster” film series, he voiced the character in the animated version “The Real Ghostbusters” and “Extreme Ghostbusters” and the video game versions “Ghostbusters: The Video Game” and “Lego Dimensions”. Harold Ramis is also popular for playing Russell Ziskey the comedy film “Stripes” from 1981.

In the filmmaking asking aspect, Ramis had a successful partnership with the writer and actor Bill Murray with whom he co-wrote six films including the comedy “Meatballs” which made 43 million dollars of a budget of just over 1 million dollars. Murray was to become a near-permanent fixture in the future productions of Ramis up until their feud began in 1993. No one knows about the cause of the fight, not even Ramis’s daughter and Murray’s goddaughter Violet Ramis Stiel could say exactly the cause of the fight when she wrote about it in her book.

They fell out with each other after a bitter quarrel which included a physical bout onset which apparently was a cumulation of periods of tension between the stars, and a twenty-year feud ensued. To make amends, Bill Murray, in 2013, encouraged by his brother, took a box of donuts and a police escort with him to visit Harold. By this time, Harold was unable to work and hardly able to speak.

Harold passed away less than a year after this.

More on the career and net worth

In 1980, Ramis became a director with the film “Caddyshack” the sports comedy film which made 39.8 million dollars of a budget of 6 million dollars. His second directorial venture came in 1983 in “National Lampoon’s Vacation” which is a sequel of the “National Lampoon Animal House” which he wrote in 1978.

Some of Ramis’s best-known credits include the fantasy comedy film “Groundhog Day” (1993) starring Bill Murray and which made 70 million of a budget of 14 (this is the movie where Ramis and Bill fought on the set); the comedy film “Bedazzled” (2000) which made 90 million of a budget of 48 million; and the adventure comedy film “Year One” (2009) starring Jack Black. All of which Ramis wrote, directed and produced.

Harold Ramis left this world as a rich man. It is hard to place a number at his credits as a writer, producer, and director as these credits overlap. There are shows he wrote, directed, and produced. He was a sort of a legend in his time, in his prime.

When he died, his earnings were calculated and put at 50 million dollars.

Cause of death

Harold Ramis passed away in February 2014. He died of a rare disease called autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, an affliction that involves swelling of the blood vessels. This illness was so bad it cost him his ability to walk, and he had to relearn how to work. He succeeded. He walked again but not for long as he relapsed deeper into the disease. He did not recover. He passed away in his home in Chicago.

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He was 69 years old. He was buried in at Shalom Memorial Park in Arlington Heights, a suburb of Chicago. There was what you can call an outpouring of tribute including from a certain Barack Obama who said Ramis made films beyond making the audience laugh but films that questioned authority,  that identified with the outsider, that rooted for the underdog. “And through it all, we never lost our faith in happy endings.”

Image sources: Fandom.com and BusinessInsider

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