Ivan Reitman, the influential filmmaker and producer behind many of the most beloved comedies of the late 20th century, from Animal House to Ghostbusters, has died. He was 75. Reitman died peacefully in his sleep Saturday night at his home in Montecito, Calif., his family told the AP. “Our family is grieving the unexpected loss of a husband, father, and grandfather who taught us to always seek the magic in life,” children Jason Reitman, Catherine Reitman, and Caroline Reitman said in a joint statement. “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.”
Known for bawdy comedies that caught the spirit of their time, Reitman’s big break came with the raucous, college fraternity sendup National Lampoon’s Animal House, which he produced. He directed Bill Murray in his first starring role in the summer camp flick Meatballs, and then again in 1981's Stripes, but his most significant success came with 1984’s 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 Oscar nominations, spawned a veritable franchise, including spinoffs, television shows and a new movie, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, that opened this last year. His son, filmmaker Jason Reitman, directed.
Paul Feig, who directed the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters, tweeted that he was in shock. “I had the honor of working so closely with Ivan and it was always such a learning experience,” Feig wrote. “He directed some of my favorite comedies of all time. All of us in comedy owe him so very much.” “A legend,” comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani said on Twitter. “The number of great movies he made is absurd.” Among other notable films he directed are Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Dave, Junior, and 1998's Six Days, Seven Nights. He also produced Beethoven, Old School, and EuroTrip, and many others, including his son's Oscar-nominated film Up in the Air. (More on the life of Reitman, who was born in Czechoslovakia and escaped with his family at age 4, and his incredible career here.)