Evan Reitman, the influential director and producer behind the beloved comedy from “Animal House” to “Ghostbusters,” has passed away. He was 75 years old.
Reitman died peacefully in his sleep Saturday night at his home in Montecito, California, his family told the Associated Press.
“Our family is grieving the unexpected loss of a husband, father, and grandfather who taught us to always look for the magic in life,” children Jason Reitman, Katherine Reitman and Caroline Reitman said in a joint statement. “We are relieved that his work as a director has brought countless others around the world laughter and happiness. As we mourn in private, we hope that those who knew him through his films will always remember him.”
Known for big, punk comedies that captured the zeitgeist of their era, Reitman’s big break came with the raucous collector fraternity film National Lampoon’s Animal House he produced. Bill Murray directed his first starring role in “Meatballs” and then again in “Stripes,” but his most significant success came with the 1984 movie “Ghostbusters.”
Not only did the irreverent supernatural comedy starring Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Rick Moranis gross nearly $300 million worldwide, it earned two Academy Award nominations, spawning a true franchise. , including spin-offs, TV shows, and a new movie, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” which opened last year. It was directed by his son, director Jason Reitman.
“Legend,” comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani said on Twitter. “The number of great movies he’s made is ridiculous.”
Other notable films he has directed include Twins, Kindergarten, Dave, Junior and Six Days and Seven Nights of 1998. He has also produced Beethoven, Old School, EuroTrip, among others. Lots, including many for his son.
He was born in Komarno, Czechoslovakia in 1946, where his father owned the largest vinegar factory in the country. His mother survived Auschwitz and his father was in the resistance. When the communists began imprisoning the capitalists after the war, the Reitmanns decided to escape, when Ivan Reitmann was only four years old, traveling in the hold of a barge bound for Vienna.
“I remember flashes of scenes,” Reitman told the Associated Press in 1979. Later they told me how they gave me some sleeping pills so that I wouldn’t make any noise. I was so fired that I slept with my eyes open. My parents were afraid that I was dead.”
Al Rittmann joined a relative in Toronto, where Evan Mule offered his business: starting a puppet theater, entertaining at summer camps, playing cafés with a folk music group. He studied music and drama at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and began making short films.
With friends and $12,000, Reitman produced a nine-day movie called Cannibal Girls, which American International agreed to release. On a budget of $500, he produced a weekly television play “Grid” with Dan Aykroyd, and became associated with the Lampoon Group in an Off-Broadway play featuring John Belushi, Gilda Radner, and Murray. Soon this led to “Animal House”.
By the time “Kindergarten Cop” came out in the ’90s, Reitman had established himself as the most successful comedy director in history. Although he was not even a father of three, it prepared him for the grueling task of directing 30 children between the ages of 4 and 7 in the Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy.
The political comedy Dave, starring Kevin Klein as a common man who should double up as the President of the United States, offered some aberrations from Reitman. Roger Ebert wrote at the time that “the film is more proof that it’s not what you do, but how you do it: Evan Reitman’s directing and Gary Ross’ screenplays use intelligence and warm feelings to make Dave into great entertainment.”
Reitman slowed down as director after 1998’s adventure comedy “Six Days, Seven Nights” with Harrison Ford and Anne Heche – only four films to follow “Evolution,” “My Super Ex-Girlfriend,” “No Strings Attached,” and “Draft Day.” , from 2014.
But he continued to produce, and even with “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” he found himself in the press circle with his son, providing emotional moments for both with the wand’s death.
When asked late last year why the fascination with the 1984 movie continues, Reitman told the AP that it’s hard to tell.
“I’ve always had a kind of honest approach to comedy,” he said. “I took it very seriously even though it was a horror movie and a comedy, I felt you had to deal with it in a realistic and honest way.”
Andrew Dalton, AP Entertainment Report reporter, contributed from Los Angeles.