Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rest In Peace, Harold Ramis

Yesterday we lost one of the greats, Harold Ramis the actor/writer/director/Renaissance Man who co-wrote (and in some cases, directed) a ton of classic comedies, including National Lampoon's Animal House, National Lampoon's Vacation, Caddyshack, Stripes, and Ghostbusters.  For me, his most memorable character as an actor is Dr. Egon Spengler, the science guy for the Ghostbusters.  When people quote that movie, nine times out of ten they're saying one of Egon's lines.  His passing has hit me pretty hard.  Not only because I am an enthusiastic admirer of his work but because he died from a particularly nasty autoimmune disease:  autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis.  His family must have known it was coming; Harold died at home surrounded by family.  He was 69.

Ramis had been out of the public eye since his last major attack of the disease in 2010 which made walking difficult for him.  AIV can cause all kinds of nasty complications, depending on where you have it and which organs are affected.  When fatal, it usually affects the skin and the kidneys, mostly, but it can happen anywhere in the body and to any organ system.  It is a close relative of autoimmune neuropathy, a form of which affects my autonomic and sensory nerves.  (I am thankful that my motor nerves are unaffected, at least so far.)

Harold Ramis leaves behind him an enviable body of work, including several films destined to be considered classics.  Ghostbusters is my personal favorite out of all of his movies, but only by the tiniest of margins.  It was filmed in part on location in the Tribeca part of Manhattan at the Fire Department of New York Hook and Ladder 8, which is still a working firehouse.  You can visit the firehouse and the guys on duty will be happy to share their little Ghostbusters museum with you, including the signs that hung outside for the two movies.  Yesterday they placed this little tribute outside their doors -- you can just make it out at the bottom right of the big red door in the second photo.

Dr. Egon Spengler, collector of molds, spores and fungus, believer that print is dead, and inventor of the PKE meter:

And Hook and Ladder 8 in happier times:

So long, Harold, and thanks for everything.

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