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Goodbye, Harold Ramis
February 24, 2014 - Michael McElwain
I’m a child of television.
When I was just a lad, my sense of humor, power of observation and the style I use to interact with others today was shaped by not only my friends and my upbringing, but also by television.
Don’t worry. This is not a blog post bashing television—modern or old-school. Instead, it’s a celebration of everything that’s right with television.
My childhood was marked by television reruns of The Andy Griffith Show, Star Trek, Batman and The Monkeys along with several first-run television shows such as Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, The Carol Burnett Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show and even Hee Haw.
Later, as my needs changed, so did television, and the first time I saw SCTV, I was hooked. With stars like Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara, Rick Moranis and the late John Candy, the show was — and still is — electric and … funny.
Now, we have to add another name to the “late” list … another SCTV star, Harold Ramis, passed away Feb. 24, 2014, due to complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis.
I don’t know too much about the three-name malady which took Harold Ramis from us (all bad diseases seem to have three names ... acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, for instance), but I do know one thing about Harold Ramis. I loved him and his sense of humor.
It’s hard not to love SCTV characters like Maurice "Moe" Green (the early station manager), Officer Friendly (a really nice police officer) and even Swami Bananananda (an exercise expert).
As Ramis continued his path in life, his career grew and so did my fascination. His writing was one area that fascinated me. In his movies, he took the misunderstood character who got the short end of the stick and transformed him or her, through comedy, into a winner.
Ramis once said, “My characters are not losers. They’re rebels. They win by their refusal to play by everyone else’s rules.”
Writing is not easy. Writing one successful script after another is near impossible. Harold Ramis did the impossible.
I followed along the Ramis path and enjoyed the fruits of his labor. Meatballs (from where I got the nickname “Spaz” in high school), Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day are just a few examples of works written or directed by Harold Ramis.
I believe that when someone famous passes away we mourn not because we had a close relationship with him or her. We mourn because there is no one leading us down that path. Where will the next laugh come from?
I hope I have an opportunity to thank Harold Ramis. Perhaps our paths will yet cross again, and I know he will have some great stories to tell.
That’s the fact, Jack.
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In this Dec. 12, 2009 file photo, actor and director Harold Ramis, center, along with actors from left, Joe Flaherty, Eugenie Ross-Leming, Judy Morgan, standing, and Jim Belushi break out in laughter as they perform a skit on stage to celebrate The Second City's 50th anniversary in Chicago. An attorney for Ramis said the actor died Monday morning, Feb. 24, 2014, from complications of autoimmune inflammatory disease at his home in Glencoe, Ill. He was 69. Ramis is best known for his roles in the comedies "Ghostbusters" and "Stripes." (AP Photo/Jim Prisching, File)