Harold Ramis’ Chicago Roots

The late actor, writer and director Harold Ramis was renowned worldwide for his body of work, but much of his success has roots in Chicago, the city where he was born.

Ramis died early Monday surrounded by family and friends at his North Shore home after struggling with an autoimmune disease. He was 69.

Ramis' acting credits include roles in Ghostbusters and Stripes, but he also wrote and directed films such as Caddyshack, Groundhog Day and Meatballs.

But Ramis got his start in Chicago with The Second City.

"Today when we got the news, it was just devastating," said Kelly Leonard, the executive vice president of The Second City.

Ramis met other comedic legends such as John Belushi, Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd at The Second City.

"He learned improvisation here and he applied those rules to his life. He made other people look good and he acted to the top of his intelligence," Leonard said.

Leonard last saw Ramis when he attended one of the shows at the Old Town theatre.

"He was in a wheelchair, and it was a little tough to see him not be well, but I think for most of us we had no idea how bad it was," Leonard said.

Ramis' illness also cut short his work as executive producer on the documentary, "Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance."

"He and his wife Erica were very involved in the Joffrey Ballet," film maker Bob Hercules said. "They were big supporters, they went to many, many shows, they went to fund raisers, and then they came up with this idea for the film."

Ramis is survived by his wife, two children and two grandchildren. A private funeral is scheduled for this week and a public memorial may be held in May.

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