Harold Ramis, the star of such classic comedies as Stripes and Ghostbusters and director of Caddyshack and Groundhog Day, passed away early this morning from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis. He was 69. According to The Chicago Tribune, he began grappling with serious health problems since May 2010.
A Chicago native, Ramis was a veteran of the Second City improvisational troupe and the late-night sketch-comedy series SCTV before moving into film as a writer of the 1978 comedy National Lampoon's Animal House.
Ramis went on to write or co-write beloved comedies like Meatballs, Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II, and, of course Groundhog Day, which he also directed and appeared in.
As an actor, he is undoubtedly best remembered for his roles in Stripes and the two Ghostbusters films, in both of which he appeared with frequent collaborator Bill Murray (the two, who were Second City castmates and worked together on The National Lampoon Radio Hour, also collaborated on Caddyshack and Groundhog Day).
According to the Tribune, Ramis had been quiet about his illness, but was visited by friends, including the long-estranged Murray.