Harold Ramis died Monday at the age of 69. (Source: Wikipedia/ Justin Hoch)
(RNN) - Harold Ramis, the actor, director and writer who helped create a new golden age of comedies in the 1980s, died surrounded by family members Monday, according to multiple reports.
His wife, Erica Mann Ramis, told the Chicago Tribune he died at around 12:53 a.m. Ramis, 69, had battled the rare disease autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis for nearly four years.
The Tribune reported his health struggles began in May 2010 with an infection that led to complications related to the autoimmune disease, according to his wife. Ramis relearned to walk but suffered a relapse in 2011.
"Sad to hear my friend Harold Ramis passed away," actor Billy Crystal wrote on Twitter. "A brilliant, funny, actor and director. A wonderful husband and dad. Big loss to us all."
Ramis was recognizable for his on-screen roles as Egon Spengler in the Ghostbusters movies and Russell Ziskey in Stripes. He also wrote or directed several other classics, including Caddyshack and National Lampoon's Vacation.
Ramis worked as Playboy's joke editor and reviewer before joining the Chicago Second City improv troupe in 1969. Other alums of Second City included future collaborators Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, John Candy and Bill Murray.
In the 1970s, he served as head writer and a performer on the Canadian TV show SCTV, based out of Toronto's Second City group. His Hollywood break came when he co-wrote National Lampoon's Animal House, one of several pairings with director Ivan Reitman.
Other writing or co-writing credits included Meatballs, Back to School and Groundhog Day, which he also directed. Among his other directing efforts were Analyze This, Multiplicity and Club Paradise.
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