“He’s the least changed by success of anyone I know in terms of sense of humor, of humility, sense of self,” the late Second City founder Bernie Sahlins, who began working with Ramis in 1969, said of him in 1999. “He’s the same Harold he was 30 years ago. He’s had enormous success relatively, but none of it has gone to his head in any way.”
Harold Ramis died today. The first movie I ever saw him in was Ghostbusters where he played Egon Spengler, my favorite ghostbuster. What fascinated me most about him (and the film) was the scientific approach to the paranormal: the idea that spirits, ghosts, demons, and deities not only exist but can be identified and categorized. I can’t tell you how much I wished his trusted Tobin’s Spirit Guide were a real-life text I could check out from my local library. I dreamed of paging through a heavy, black leather bound book, reading about poltergeists, cultists, and magicians; an encyclopedia of arcane knowledge.
Most of all, Egon taught me it was cool to be a geek, to have extensive knowledge and understanding of things where other people came up short. Peter Venkman may have had the best lines and the most nerve, but without Egon’s know-how the team would be nothing. I hope when I show Ghostbusters to my own children someday they will glean a similar lesson from his character.
Rest in peace Mr. Ramis.