Luke Owen remembers Harold Ramis…
You only have to listen to the Tinsel Town Stiffs section of Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman’s Hollywood Babble On to know that not a week goes by where the entertainment industry doesn’t lose one of its stars. This year alone we have seen tragic loses in James Avery and Philip Seymour Hoffman and yesterday we lost one of the true greats in comedy of the last few decades. On February 24th 2014, Harold Ramis passed away at the age of 69. We lost one entertainment’s brightest stars.
While he leaves an impressive body of work, Ramis will always be remembered for playing Dr. Egon Spengler in the 1984 comedy classic Ghostbusters. Once the news broke about his passing, it seemed every news story printed used a picture of Ramis in the iconic role and almost all social media output from fans has been geared towards the performance. Today the Hook and Ladder 8 firehouse, which served as the Ghostbusters’ HQ in the movie, put up the Ghostbusters II logo as it appeared in the film in remembrance and fans around New York have stopped by to leave flowers, pictures and even Twinkie bars as they mourn the loss. It’s a testament to how great Ramis is in the role and the impact the movie had on a generation.
What many people forget is just how much Ramis changed and influenced the direction of Ghostbusters. Before he came on board, Dan Aykroyd’s script featured himself and John Belushi travelling through time and space fighting ghosts with the likes Mr. Stay Puft making an appearance on page 13 as just a regular bad guy. What Ramis and director Ivan Reitman did was take Aykroyd’s idea and use a tried and tested comedic method to make it better – ground it in reality and put ordinary people in extraordinary situations. By having Peter, Ray, Egon and Winston regular folk who are then thrust into the strange situation of dealing with a Sumerian God in the real-world setting of New York, Ghostbusters had a close-to-home atmosphere that a movie about space busters would have lacked. Without Ramis’ writing and vision, who knows if Ghostbusters would have become the pop culture behemoth it is today. As Dan Palmer pointed out on the latest Flickering Myth Podcast, Dan Aykroyd is (and always will be) a great writer, but without a filter like Ramis he doesn’t write Blues Brothers, he writes Blues Brothers 2000.
You’ve crossed the streams Egon, I just hope there are plenty of Twinkies, spore molds and fungus wherever you are. Thank you for everything.