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Harold Ramis Honored by Writers Guild with Screen Laurel Award

The Writers Guild of America West has selected the late Harold Ramis as the recipient of its Laurel Award for screenwriting achievement.

The award will be presented at the WGA Awards ceremony on Feb. 14, with Erica Mann Ramis and family accepting.

Harold Ramis changed the face of comedy,” said WGA West VP Howard A. Rodman. “His death last year deprived us of his unique way of seeing the world, at once hilarious and wise. From his early work with National Lampoon and SCTV through ‘Animal House,’ ‘Meatballs,’ ‘Caddyshack’ and ‘Ghostbusters,’ Ramis’ voice was strong, clear, outrageous in all the best ways.”

“His unrealized projects – an adaptation of ‘Confederacy of Dunces,’ a biopic about Emma Goldman – leave us aching with an anticipation that will never be fulfilled,” Rodman added. “And then there’s ‘Groundhog Day,’ one of modern cinema’s few true masterworks, a film that is impeccably crafted, morally astute, emotionally sustaining, philosophically insightful and funny as hell. We could watch it again and again and forever.”

Ramis broke into show business with the guerrilla television collective “TVTV” and wrote freelance pieces for the Chicago Daily News, which led to his start at comedy writing. In 1969, he began studying and performing with Chicago’s Second City improv comedy theater.

Ramis mined his own college life experiences as a fraternity member, collaborating on the script for 1978’s “National Lampoon’s Animal House” with Douglas Kenney and Chris Miller. He wrote “Meatballs,” made his directorial debut in “Caddyshack,” co-starred with Bill Murray in “Stripes” and co-wrote and co-starred in “Ghostbusters” and “Ghostbusters II.”

Ramis also co-wrote and directed “Groundhog Day,” which won a BAFTA award for best original screenplay. Other screenwriting credits include “Club Paradise,” “Armed and Dangerous,” “Caddyshack II” and “Bedazzled,” which he also directed. Other directing credits include “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “Stuart Saves His Family,” “Multiplicity,” “The Ice Harvest” and “Year One.”

Four of his films made AFI’s 100 Funniest Films list: “Ghostbusters,” “Groundhog Day,” “Animal House” and “Caddyshack.”

Ramis passed away on Feb. 24 at the age of 69.

Past recipients of the Laurel Award include screenwriters David Mamet, Lawrence Kasdan, Robert Benton, Barry Levinson, Steven Zaillian, Eric Roth, Tom Stoppard and Paul Mazursky.

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