CHICAGO -- Actor, writer and director Harold Ramis died early Monday after struggling with an autoimmune disease, his wife told the Chicago Tribune. He was 69.
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Ramis is known for his work on such movies as 1984's "Ghostbusters" and 1993's "Groundhog Day" and is considered a quintessential name in comedy classics, including "National Lampoon's Animal House," "Stripes" and "Caddyshack," among many others.
Ramis was born in Chicago and moved his family to the North Shore area in the '90s.
According to the Tribune, he underwent surgery for diverticulitis in 2010. He suffered complications and spent time at the Mayo Clinic and Rehabilitation Institute ofChicago. Ramis relapsed less than two years later, the Tribune reports, and never fully recovered.
5 ways you know Harold Ramis (USA TODAY)
Ramis left behind a notable body of work. Here are five standouts:
Animal House (1978): Ramis was one of the writers of this hit film, about the crazy escapades of a 1962 college fraternity. It reunited him with John Belushi, a Second City TV sketch comedy show cohort along with John Candy and Rick Moranis. At the time, critic Roger Ebert called Animal House "vulgar, raunchy, ribald, and occasionally scatological" - and gave it four stars. It helped launch Ramis, and everyone involved in the film, to fame.
Caddyshack (1980): The sports comedy marked Ramis' feature film directorial debut. Aside from that pesky gopher, the film starred Chevy Chase, Ted Knight, Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield. Ramis also wrote the screenplay to the sequel, Caddyshack II, which followed in 1988 but was not nearly as successful.
National Lampoon's Vacation (1983): Ramis directed the first film of the Vacation series, which starred Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo and a rotation of actors who played their children (even though they are the same characters). The first film follows the Griswold family's adventures as patriarch Clark (Chase) is determined to journey with his brood on a road trip to Walley World theme park for some good, old-fashioned fun.
Ghostbusters (1984): For many, this is the first Ramis film to come to mind. He and Dan Aykroyd both wrote and co-starred alongside Bill Murray in the supernatural comedy. The three out-of-work parapsychology professors decide they can earn a living by exterminating poltergeists. It's all fun and games until they have to face true evil forces and save New York City. Ramis is the straight guy, offering a foil for Aykroyd's craziness and Murray's quiet goofiness.
Groundhog Day (1993): Ramis and Murray team up yet again for this classic comedy in which Murray's character, a Pittsburgh TV weatherman, is forced to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pa., and ends up reliving the same day over and over. This time, Ramis served as director, producer and screenwriter, and had a small acting role. In 2006, the film was added to the United States National Film Registry.