A sad piece of news for comedy fans – Harold Ramis, haroldramisactor and director of several high-profile comedies, has passed away at age 69.

The Chicago Tribune states his death was due to complications from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels. Ramis was reported to be surrounded by family members as he passed.

As an actor, Ramis was probably best known for being part of the lead quartet of Ivan Reitman’s popularĀ Ghostbusters films, alongside Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson. He played the role of Dr. Egon Spengler in the films, which he co-wrote with Aykroyd, and had been heavily rumoured to be returning to the role in the long-mooted second sequel. Other notable acting jobs included As Good As It Gets, Knocked Up and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

Ramis also had a prolific identity as a director, being at the helm of comedy classics such as Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Groundhog Day and Analyse This. His most recent directorial outing was the Biblical comedy Year One, which underwhelmed with critics and audiences. In addition, he was a credited writer on National Lampoon’s Animal House and sequel Analyze That.

Within the world of comedy, the news of Harold Ramis’ passing is sure to be hard to comprehend especially given his contributions to the genre. Our thoughts go to his surviving friends and family members at this difficult time.

He will be sorely missed by those working within the genre, and by anyone who always wanted to laugh.