In the '80s, kids' first Ghostbusters dress-up choice was to pretend to be Bill Murray's Peter Venkman, then Slimer, followed by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. But eventually, some kid would be saddled with the bespectacled Egon Spengler, such is life for the straight man. Harold Ramis, who played second fiddle to Bill Murray not only in the Ghostbusters movies, but also in Stripes, passed away today and though he will be best remembered as a sidekick, his resume is one that shows him a comedic mind second to none.
Not only did Ramis co-write the afore mentioned Stripes and Ghostbusters movies, he also contributed in one way or another to just about every 1980s comedy worth a damn. He was one of the writers of Animal House, Meatballs, and Back to School. He wrote and directed National Lampoon's Vacation and Groundhog Day, but if you had to pick one slapstick masterpiece that he was involved in that stood above the rest (which for a child of the '80s is like asking an art historian select a favorite portion of the Sistine Chapel) it would have to be his directorial debut, Caddyshack.
With only the slightest inklings of a plot, Ramis found a setting worthy of satire the hoity-toity country club and let some of the greatest comedians of his generation run amok. Even though Chevy Chase and Bill Murray couldn't stand each other, Ramis found a way to make the movie work without them ever sharing a scene.
But the movie was stolen by Rodney Dangerfield. In his first major role. Dangerfield thought he was doing terrible since no one in front of the camera or behind it was laughing at his schtick. It was only when Ramis explained to him that to capture the sound during filming no one was allowed to laugh that Dangerfield felt at ease.
We, in South Florida, can take pride that Ramis selected our region to film much of his magnum opus. The golf course scenes were filmed in the Grande Oaks Golf club in Davie, the country club was Boca Raton Hotel and Country Club, the marina scenes were filmed behind Virginia Key's Rusty Pelican, and the pool that inspired a hundred other prankster kids to put a Baby Ruth candy bar in the water was in Plantation.
So we salute you Harold Ramis, a man who made South Florida appear as funny, as anyone ever has.