The world has lost one of the most successful and innovative comedy filmmakers today, as Harold Ramis passed away at the age of 69. The director, actor and writer succumbed to complications from a rare disease called autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, which causes a swelling of the blood vessels.

A prolific comedy figurehead in the late 70s and early 80s, Harold Ramis started as a writer and performer on the Canadian based sketch comedy series SCTV, where he met many of the iconic comedy actors he would later go onto work with throughout his storied career. He was known for being a jack of all trades when it came to comedy film, directing such seminal classics as Caddyshack, Vacation, and Groundhog Day. As a writer, he penned Animal House, Meatballs and Stripes, where he co-starred alongside friend and on-screen comedy partner Bill Murray. The two would later go onto work side by side in the iconic Ghostbusters, where he played parapsychologist and ghost hunter Dr. Egon Spengler.

He was last seen in the comedy Year One, which he directed. He was in the midst of planning Ghostbusters 3, which would have seen him return as Egon. He had spent the last several years helping develop the movie alongside co-star Dan Aykroyd.

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Harold Ramis was surrounded by family when he passes away early in the morning on February 24, at 12:53 am. He had been struggling with the rare blood vessel disease since being diagnosed in 2010. An infection led to complications that saw him having to relearn how to walk in 2011. His struggles where never widely reported on by the press.

Harold Ramis is noted for inspiring a new generation of comedy writers and directors, including Judd Apatow and The Farrelly Brothers. He is remembered as an all-around good guy, and is survived by his wife, Erica Mann Ramis.

B. Alan Orange