Ivan Reitman: Producer and Director of Movies Including “Ghostbusters” and “National Lampoon’s Animal House”

From a New York Times obit by Christine Chung headlined “Ivan Reitman, Director of ‘Ghostbusters,’ Is Dead at 75”:

Ivan Reitman, a producer and director of a string of movies including “Ghostbusters” and “National Lampoon’s Animal House” that imprinted their antics on the funny bones of a generation of filmgoers, died on Saturday at his home in Montecito, Calif….

During his decades-long career, with credits as recent as last year, Mr. Reitman produced and directed major box-office comedies that became iconic to the generations that grew up with them and contributed to the rise of actors like Bill Murray and Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom he cast in the unlikely role of a police officer masquerading as a kindergarten teacher in “Kindergarten Cop” (1990).

He produced, with Matty Simmons, the 1978 movie “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” an hour-and-a-half-long depiction of Greek life’s chaotic energy and absurdity that has become one of the most beloved comedies in the history of the genre….After the staggering success of “Animal House,” he returned to directing, later telling The New York Times that he regretted not directing it.

His 1984 film “Ghostbusters,” which he did direct, was nominated for two Oscars, despite lukewarm reviews from some critics, who complained of disjointed humor that heavily prioritized special effects.

Viewers disagreed, enthralled and entertained by Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Bill Murray clad in heavily accessorized jumpsuits and the bizarre visuals that included a 100-foot-high marshmallow dressed in a sailor suit and a neon green ghost. Five years later, he directed a sequel, “Ghostbusters II,” and he helped produce another spinoff, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” that was directed by his son, Jason, and released last year.

In a 2007 interview with the CBC, he recalled the first time he saw the stars of “Ghostbusters” in their outlandish ghostbusting outfits, rounding Madison Avenue for a pre-shoot. “There was just something so extraordinary about that image,” he said. “I turned to the script assistant next to me and said, ‘I think this movie’s gonna work.’”

Ivan Reitman was born in Komarno, in what is now Slovakia, to Jewish parents who survived the Nazis. Four years later, his family fled Czechoslovakia to escape communism and eventually landed in Toronto.

“We came here penniless,” he said in 2007 as he was about to get a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame. “I didn’t speak the language.”

He began producing movies as a student at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Working Off Broadway on “The National Lampoon Show,” he forged an early partnership with Mr. Ramis and with John Belushi and Mr. Murray before they became stars on “Saturday Night Live.”

After “Animal House,” he directed “Meatballs” (1979), starring Mr. Murray as the head counselor at a chaotic summer camp, and “Stripes” (1981), in which Mr. Murray plays a rebellious Army recruit.

Survivors include his children Jason, Catherine and Caroline.

“Our family is grieving the unexpected loss of a husband, father, and grandfather who taught us to always seek the magic in life,” they told The A.P. “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.”

Christine Chung is a general assignment reporter covering breaking news.

Also see the Washington Post obit by Harrison Smith headlined “Ivan Reitman, director of ‘Ghostbusters,’ dies at 75.”

Ivan Reitman, a director and producer who made some of the most beloved movie comedies of the 1970s and ′80s, turning “toga” into a byword for frat-party excess with “National Lampoon’s Animal House” and introducing viewers to the slimy work of “supernatural elimination” in “Ghostbusters,” died Feb. 12 at his home in Montecito, Calif….

Mr. Reitman was one of the most successful comic filmmakers of his time, known for channeling an irreverent, anti-establishment sensibility in movies that harnessed the talent of “Saturday Night Live” stars such as John Belushi, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. His movies rarely drew critical acclaim, but they made more than $2 billion at the box office and inspired filmmakers such as Todd Phillips, whose comedies “Road Trip” (2000) and “Old School” (2003) were among the more than 70 movies and TV shows that Mr. Reitman produced.

“He has a great feeling for the pulse of an audience,” Aykroyd told the Canadian magazine Maclean’s in 1986. “He knows how to build those points of reaction, the peaks and valleys that make a movie work.”

Mr. Reitman directed nearly 20 films, often involving rebellious goofballs in outlandish situations. The end of his U.S. Army comedy “Stripes” (1981) saw Murray, Harold Ramis and other soldiers accidentally invade Czechoslovakia, while the climax of “Ghostbusters” (1984) showcased the demonic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, a corporate mascot who lumbers through the streets of New York, wreaking havoc….

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