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R.I.P. Ivan Reitman, Ghostbusters Director Dead at 75

Reitman also directed Twins, Kindergarten Cop, and Dave, and produced Animal House

Ivan Reitman Ghostbusters
Ivan Reitman with cast of Ghostbusters, photo by Kobal Collection
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    Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman has died at the age of 75.

    According to Reitman’s family, the filmmaker passed peacefully, though unexpectedly in his sleep on Saturday, February 12th in his Montecito, California home. In a joint statement, Reitman’s children Jason, Catherine, and Caroline said,

    “Our family is grieving the unexpected loss of a husband, father, and grandfather who taught us to always seek the magic in life. We take comfort that his work as a filmmaker brought laughter and happiness to countless others around the world. While we mourn privately, we hope those who knew him through his films will remember him always.”

    In addition to the two original Ghostbusters films, Reitman helmed such comedy classics as Twins, Kindergarten Cop, and Dave.

    His early career was closely connected with that of Bill Murray; Reitman’s first directorial feature, 1979’s Meatballs, also marked the actor’s big screen debut. They re-teamed on Stripes with the late Harold Ramis in 1981, followed by the classic Ghostbusters coming in 1984.

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    Reitman began his career in the 1970s with a number of Canadian low budget horror and sexploitation films, including as a producer on David Cronenberg’s Shiver and Rabid. His work with Dan Aykroyd on the Canadian TV revue Greed would grow into a lifetime of collaboration. He also connected with the National Lampoon comedians via their off-Broadway show with Murray, John Belushi, and Gilda Radner.

    That connection led to Reitman’s Hollywood breakthrough as the producer of the Belushi-starring Animal House. He also had producer credits on Heavy MetalStop! Or My Mom Will ShootSpace JamPrivate Parks, Hitchcock, and the 2017 Baywatch feature adaptation. Later in his career, he served as producer on the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot and the recent film Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which saw his son, Jason, picking up the reins to continue the original story.

    Reitman’s final directorial effort was 2014’s Draft Day with Kevin Costner. He also helmed Six Days, Seven Nights with Harrison Ford and Anne Heche, Fathers’ Day with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams, Evolution with David Duchovny and Julianne Moore, and My Super Ex-Girlfriend with Luke Wilson and Uma Thurman.

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    Reitman was born in Komarmo, Czechoslovakia to a mother who survived Auschwitz and a father who was an underground resistance fighter. His father was the owner of Czechoslovakia’s largest vinegar factory, making him a target of communists after the war. The Reitman family escaped to Vienna in a nailed-down hold of a barge when Ivan was just 4.

    “I remember flashes of scenes,” Reitman said in a 1979 interview with the Associated Press. “Later they told me about how they gave me a couple of sleeping pills so I wouldn’t make any noise. I was so knocked out that I slept with my eyes open. My parents were afraid I was dead.”

    The family eventually made their way to Toronto, where Reitman developed his love for showbiz. From those difficult beginnings, Ivan Reitman would go on to be one of the most respected and beloved comedy filmmakers of all time.

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    Update, February 14th, 2022: Reitman’s son Jason has shared a tribute to his father on Twitter. “I’ve lost my hero,” he wrote. “Thank you for the kind messages. Enjoy his movies and remember his storytelling gifts. Nothing would make him happier.”

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