Ivan Reitman, the influential filmmaker and producer behind beloved comedies from Animal House to Ghostbusters, has died. He was 75.
Reitman passed away peacefully in his sleep on Saturday night at his home in Montecito, California, his family says.
“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 big, 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 Meatballs and then again in 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 $US300 million ($A420 million) worldwide, it earned two Oscar nominations, spawned a veritable franchise, including spin-offs, television shows and a new movie, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, that opened this last year which his son filmmaker Jason Reitman directed.
Among other notable films he directed are Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Dave, Junior and Six Days, Seven Nights. He also produced Beethoven, Old School and EuroTrip, and many others, including several for his son, filmmaker Jason Reitman.
He was born in Komarmo, Czechoslovakia, in 1946 where his father owned the country’s biggest vinegar factory. When the communists began imprisoning capitalists after the war, the Reitmans decided to escape, when Ivan Reitman was only four. They travelled in the nailed-down hold of a barge headed for Vienna.
The Reitmans joined a relative in Toronto, where Ivan displayed his showbiz inclinations; starting a puppet theatre, entertaining at summer camps, playing coffee houses with a folk music group. He studied music and drama at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and began making movie shorts.