Harold Ramis could have become one of those complaining, classless Hollywood twits – he certainly had the fame for it. Yet, it never would’ve happened – not in a million years. With all these stories in the media of whiny, obnoxious celebs that can’t seem to hold it together and just remain professional, so many bigger and profound stories need to take precedence – although, that’s not always the case. For example, there is a certain other volatile celebrity featured all over the media this week who has decided to give us his “last” self-serving take on his personal woes. Stories like this, although seemingly trivial, become big – huge, even. The public can’t wait to eat up the gossip and become ensconced in the lives of these rich crybabies.
Upon the passing of the ultra-classy Harold Ramis, it’s time to actually remember a celebrity who never acted like one. This incredible actor/writer/director/producer, who passed away on Monday at age 69, never distracted us with his personal politics, bless his soul. This can be reflected in so many wonderful articles and odes being written this week, regarding this apparently lovely human being. His career is astounding, spanning years and tons of comedic powerhouse films.
Who can forget Ramis’ character in 1984’s Ghostbusters (which he co-wrote)? Egon Spengler, the nerdiest of nerds, was so intellectually engaging. The audience wanted to know what he knew. They wanted to understand what he meant about “the twinkie.” He played that part so well that it was quite believable he knew real facts regarding the supernatural. Ramis also starred in and co-wrote 1981 comedy film Stripes. Here, Ramis was a totally different kind of character. This time, he was purely funny in such a generally quiet and sarcastic way. Although the film was primarily a showcase for Bill Murray’s outrageous comedic acting, it would not have worked without Ramis at his side, filling his role – but not overflowing it. In a classic scene, Ramis’ character gives a speech to his platoon at the army barracks, quoting his father as saying: “Never hit anyone in anger unless you’re absolutely sure you can get away with it.” Ramis took on these roles on with ease – he played his part. To be the “sidekick,” to “be the ball,” so to speak – that takes a small amount of ego and a reservoir of class.
Although Harold Ramis’ artform usually erred towards comedy, he was considered a very good actor in everything he did, especially when he was being serious – note his sincere performance as the Seth Rogen character’s father in “Knocked Up.” Also, check out his performance as the sympathetic doctor in “As Good As It Gets.” One got a sense that these characters were very much like the man, and unless the history books show otherwise, it’s pretty clear he was as gentle, sweet, an unassuming as the characters he played.
He was also behind the ridiculously popular films ‘Caddyshack’ and ‘Animal House’. So much has been said about those films that, at this point, there is no need to even “go there”. Throughout his amazing career, did he ever complain about how hard it is to be famous? Did he ever get caught up in the law or bust up a paparazzo? No. He had class.
Later, he would go on to direct another Bill Murray vehicle, 1993’s Groundhog Day. It was a film that has been deemed, by some, as “the perfect comedy.” Fans have watched the movie over and over, to the point where the title actually takes on a double meaning. Ramis made a cameo in the film as an extremely overweight neurologist. One could hear the audience thinking: “Man , he got fat!” In a later interview with Ramis, he explained he’d gained weight purposefully for that role – a role that lasted only a few seconds on-screen. He gained all that weight for a few moments? The man was classy AND dedicated.
Although, there may be tons of tabloid-esque stories in the news today regarding a certain celebrity’s resignation from public life, or other headlines referring to young pop star’s questionable U.S. citizenship, perhaps it’s time to stop for a second and pay homage to someone who actually respected his audience enough to keep his relationship with the public purely professional. Harold Ramis truly outclassed them all.
Editorial by Josh Taub