A few years back, my husband and I were invited to have dinner with Harold Ramis, his loving wife Erica and their two sweet boys. It was New Year’s Eve in Aspen and Harold was revved up for fun. We all went to a place called Boogies- a glitzy 1950’s diner that serves up quintessential cuisine that’s bad for the heart but good for the soul.
To be honest, I knew Harold was in Ghost Busters but was pretty oblivious to his fame or notoriety. I spent 15 years living abroad, so missed a lot of movies everybody talks about. Harold wanted us all to have a good time, and as he sat in the booth he beamed broadly like the happiest man alive. Smiling and super polite to all the people who interrupted his meal for autographs and pictures, he enjoyed the kindness of strangers. He was truly flattered that people recognized him and thought so highly of his work.
Harold had gone gray and put a on a few pounds, so he didn’t look like the skinny guy once seen in Ghost Busters but that didn’t matter- because he had a spark in his eye that was brighter than the sun. It later dawned on me Harold had won the trifecta of life- box office hits, world-wide acclaim, and the most loving close-knit family you could ever meet. The way he tenderly took care of his wife and laughed with his boys was truly touching to behold. There was no hint of arrogance, delusions of grandeur or ego-driven dribble, just a generous man who wanted to have a blast as he encouraged us all to order giant milkshakes after we ate.
Harold was in a festive frame of mind. He asked us if we wanted to go to a late-night barbecue at his friend’s home in Snowmass, where we all had another huge meal all over again. His passion for life was contagious, as he ate a few plates of grilled chicken.
It was at this party Harold took me aside and quite earnestly said, “I heard you talk to ghosts.”
I thought it funny he really did have a fascination with ghosts so quickly responded, “I heard you bust them.”
This wasn’t the answer the guy was expecting as he bent over laughing so hard he could barely catch his breath. This gentle genius, so kind and true, truly embodied what he looked like on the screen. I’m sure behind those pearly gates he’s got the best spot next to God’s throne, making the big guy laugh so hard he probably can’t get any work done. I can also see him encouraging the choirs of angels to drink giant milkshakes, and if any of those rotten spirits get out of hand not to worry, he can bust them.
May you rest in peace, Harold Ramis, and if there’s a star-chart up in heaven for making us all laugh you’ve probably earned a constellation. Though we may not always hear the tinkling of pennies, if we listen very closely we'll instead get blitzed by the billions of giggles dropping down now from heaven.