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Harold Ramis’s Death Takes Me On Another Trip Back In Time

I had a friend in college who spent years in my “funniest person I’ve ever known” category. (Then I met Ben and he’s had the category to himself ever since). This friend was a native Chicagoan who moved to South Dakota and attended USD in Vermillion because he had family ties in the area.

Larry was an incredibly talented actor and comedian. While living in Chicago he had done comedy writing with Jim Quan, Bob Newhart’s nephew. He did dead-on impressions of Clint Eastwood, James Mason and other actors. He loved all things Sherlock Holmes and old-time radio shows like I did. He even wrote one that we produced together decades ago.

Fast forward to the late 80’s and early 90’s, Larry had moved back to Chicago and was working consistently as an extra in movies filmed in the city. And there were a lot of them, still are. A great deal of the inside info I know about movie-making and the actors in them, I learned not from my famous cousin Al Pacino, but from my funny friend, Larry.

“Groundhog Day” was one of those movies filmed in Chicago that Larry appeared in. He had some fun scenes in the movie and became acquainted with the co-writer and director, Harold Ramis. Yup, that Harold Ramis. The famously funny, brilliantly talented Second City comedian and writer who went on to fame and fortune doing what he did best; making people laugh.

I loved the stories Larry shared about the movie set, and about the affable, approachable Mr. Ramis. From that time on, every movie I saw, in which he acted, had written, or directed, I felt a special affinity toward this master of deadpan.That year’s Christmas card from Larry was a snapshot of Harold Ramis and him palling around on the set.

My friendship with Larry, unfortunately, didn’t survive, but that card did. It was marvelous! And so was Harold Ramis.


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