A day after Harold Ramis’ death, President Barack Obama not only paid tribute to the Chicago-native writer-director, but he ended with a “Caddyshack” reference. In a statement issued Tuesday morning, the president wrote:
“Michelle and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Harold Ramis, one of America’s greatest satirists and, like so many other comedic geniuses, a proud product of Chicago’s Second City. When we watched his movies – from ‘Animal House’ and ‘Caddyshack’ to ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Groundhog Day’ — we didn’t just laugh until it hurt. We questioned authority. We identified with the outsider. We rooted for the underdog. And through it all, we never lost our faith in happy endings.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Harold’s wife, Erica, his children and grandchildren, and all those who loved him, who quote his work with abandon, and who hope that he received total consciousness.”
In “Caddyshack,” Bill Murray’s character, Carl Spackler, tells of caddying for the Dalai Lama and trying to get a tip out of him afterward. “And he says, ‘Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.’ So I got that goin' for me, which is nice,” Carl says.
Also, actor Steve Carell emailed some thoughts about Ramis to the Tribune late Monday night:
“Harold and I became friends when he was directing ‘The Office.’ He was a genuinely good person. Infinitely fun to be around, and profoundly gifted. One of the things that I loved most about him was his ability to create moments that were incredibly funny, but also touching, and completely human. One episode entitled ‘Benihana Christmas’ was particularly memorable. Harold had such a wonderful touch with the material. He understood that humor could be found in sadness and pain. I feel honored that I got to know him.”
In lieu of flowers the Ramis family has created a fund for memorial donations: The Harold Ramis-Second City Training Center Scholarship Fund, 1616 North Wells St., Chicago. Ramis trained and performed at the Second City in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
A private funeral is planned for this week, with a public memorial in Chicago to follow perhaps in May, the family has said.