In Memoriam: Harold Ramis

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On Monday, February 24, 2013, the world lost one of its great funnymen — actor/director Harold Ramis. Known to many as the bespeckled Egon Spengler of Ghostbusters fame, Ramis was responsible for some of the all-time great comedies as a writer, actor and director. Members of Pop-Break’s staff fondly look back…

Daniel Cohen: I could sit here all day and just spout off Egon quotes, but that’s not doing Mr. Ramis enough justice. Despite how great and iconic he was as that character, Harold Ramis was so much more. Working alongside such greats as Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and Dan Aykroyd, Ramis’ screenwriting credits include some of the most vintage comedies ever made: Animal House. Meatballs. Stripes. Back to School. Those are just some of the movies he had a hand in writing. Not to mention his directing resume, which includes Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, and Groundhog Day. Now that is one hell of a list!

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In the golden age of comedy, Harold Ramis was crucial to its epicenter. Sure he had some misses, but that’s the price of comedy. It’s the most challenging genre to pull off, and Harold Ramis dominated it time and time again.

Comedy has lost a legend, and no matter what anyone tells you, Ramis was more then just that subdued scientist who collected “spores, molds, and fungus.” But ironically enough, I will end with an Egon quote, and one that is probably my favorite line of dialogue ever spoken by Harold Ramis:

“Let’s say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. According to this morning’s sample, it would be a Twinkie…thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately 600 pounds.”

Logan J. Fowler: Most everyone remembers Harold Ramis for playing Egon in Ghostbusters. And that’ll be a role that I’ll obviously love him the most in. But one of my favorite things about Ramis was his work behind the camera, most notably, Multiplicity. I could watch that movie day in and day out, without ever tiring of it. His ability to make Michael Keaton act four different ways while interacting with himself was something of quiet brilliance, and the movie was funny and heartwarming in the way that Ramis knew just how to deliver it. His work as director always showcased a comedic side that had emotional purpose underlying the chuckles. Gone too soon for sure. His work will always be memorable. RIP Egon.

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Kelly O’Dowd: I watched Ghostbusters almost every day with my brother when we were growing up. Good old video recording of HBO. 1980s style. Egon was always always always my favorite. Smart, funny, tall: a girl could fall in love. When I was talking about Ghostbusters with my husband a few years ago, I suddenly realized that Harold Ramis was my first, albeit weird and awkward, celebrity crush.

Bill Bodkin: So many great moments filled the career of the brilliant Harold Ramis. I have seen Animal House or Ghostbusters, it’s absurd. I can recite lines from so many of his films — that he’s written, directed and starred. The man was genius, plain and simple. He made smart comedy seem so easy.

And yet with all the great films he has on his resume, I look to a small scenes in Knocked Up as my all-time favorite Ramis scene. In it, he plays the father of Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) who has just confessed to getting Katherine Heigl’s character pregnant. In a didn’t-see-that-coming moment, Ramis gives the warmest smile imaginable and admits how happy he is that he’s going to be a grandfather. He then admits to his son that he, like his son, smoked a lot of weed (and still does) despite telling his son otherwise and that he’s made a lot of mistakes and is in no way the guy to seek advice from. His lesson — Ben has to grow up on his own. Ramis, to me, is perfect here. He’s just so honest and candid — it’s both hilarious and disarming. Maybe it’s because the scene reminded me of situations with my own dad, but this role has always stuck with me and the shot of Ramis’ warm smile and fatherly laugh is probably one of my favorite parts of a movie that is rife with outrageous characters and situations.

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Nick Porcaro: Most people recall Harold Ramis fondly for his role as actor and co-writer of the Ghostbusters films. Not me. I’ll always remember him as Don Durkett, the Admissions Director of Stanford University in Jake Kasdan’s under-appreciated 2002 coming-of-age comedy Orange County.

The film stars Colin Hanks as Shaun Brumder, a desperate, disillusioned college applicant with skittish nerves. His increasingly absurd attempts to rectify an unfortunate transcript mixup lead him to the office of Ramis’ Durkett, portrayed as a straight-laced family man eager to spend vacation with his family in Bali. Shaun’s girlfriend Ashley mistakenly drugs the Director with ecstasy pills instead of painkillers, leading to a hilarious encounter and an all-too-temporary triumph for Shaun.

Ramis completely throws himself into the bit part and offers a reprieve from Shaun’s increasingly tense endeavors. It’s not exactly a legendary performance but it never fails to put a smile on my face.

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Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.