When Jim Henson died in 1990, I almost burst into tears at work. His work had such a huge, wonderful impact on my childhood, in equal measure Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. He was gone too soon.
I felt almost the same way when I heard Harold Ramis died. His impact on my young teen and young adult self is life long. Ghostbusters was released on June 1, 1984. I got to see that movie in Los Angeles in a huge movie theater that was packed full of people, including one guy dressed as a ghostbuster. (Not sure which one, but probably Venkman because we all wanted to be Bill Murray.) I was just blown away by A) the sheer size of the theater and the audience, coming from my small town life and B) where did that guy get all that cool stuff (all the actual logo patches) to make that costume!?!?
Years later I was working at Sony Imageworks and we were bidding on the VFX work for Multiplicity. One of our biggest selling points was that we had the technology to shoot elements for the movie to create the multiple characters needed. We set up a camera test so that Mr. Ramis (the director) and the producers could come and see what we had to offer. The meeting was good, he was low-key and polite. I was so excited to meet him, so grateful to be in the room.
We went down to the stage to show him the camera set-up for the repeatable camera head (a big deal back then, very common now). We had set it up so that he could do a short bit of acting out himself as two different selves on camera. (A la Multiplicity.) He was game and sat down and suddenly the polite and low-key director turned ON! He was now an actor and improv comic creating a scene on the fly with himself. It was like lightning had struck the room. I had never spent time on set like that before and seeing that flash was incredible. I always thought myself a ham back then, maybe I could perform. But seeing Harold Ramis just GO, I realized I knew nothing about it and he was amazing.
All I've read about him since he died has been about his amazing comic genius, but also about his generosity and how he liked to work with a team, that he enjoyed the banter, the back and forth, the give and take. It wasn't just about him. Also, apparently, people thought he was pretty nice. I like to hear that because (back to me) I sometimes think I'm too nice for this business.
I'm going to miss everything that still might have been coming. I'm sorry he had to leave us so soon. I'm going to miss you Egon!