‘Ghostbusters’ director Ivan Reitman, who Hollywood remembers as ‘a true legend’

Ivan Reitman, the ghost hunters director and animal house producer, is being recalled by Hollywood after his death on Saturday at age 75.

“Our family is mourning the unexpected loss of a husband, father and grandfather who taught us to always seek the magic in life,” said his children – director Jason Reitman, Catherine Reitman and Caroline Reitman – in a statement. “We are reassured that his work as a filmmaker has brought laughter and happiness to countless people around the world. As we privately mourn, we hope that those who knew him through his films will always remember him.”

Filmmaker Ivan Reitman attends the Ghostbusters: Afterlife New York premiere at AMC Lincoln Square on November 15, 2021 in New York City. (Photo: ANGELA WEISS / TSWT)

The filmmaker, who died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Montecito, Calif., got his break producing 1978 films animal house with John Belushi. He continued to direct 1979 Meatballs, giving Bill Murray his first lead role, and 1981’s Stripes starring Murray and (writer/actor) Harold Ramis. This was followed by the 1984 blockbuster ghost hunters, which starred Murray, Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis, as well as its 1989 sequel. (He produced 2016 Ghostbusters: Answer the Call and 2021 Ghostbusters: the afterlife, the latter led by his son, Jason.)

Reitman also put Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first major comedy, 1988 twinsand also directed him in 1990s Kindergarten Cop and 1994 Junior.

After the family announced his death, there was a statement on the official ghost hunters social media account of Tom Rothman, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group.

“Tonight the Lady with the Torch weeps, as do all of us at Columbia and moviegoers everywhere,” Rothman wrote. “Ivan Reitman was an inseparable part of this studio’s legacy, but more than that, he was a friend. A great talent and an even finer man; he will be greatly missed. We send our condolences to his family.”

Paul Feig, who directed Ghostbusters: Answer the Call in 2016, said: “I had the honor of working so closely with Ivan and it was always a learning experience. He directed some of my favorite comedies from all time. All of us in comedy owe him a lot.”

Ernie Hudson, who played Winston Zeddemore in the ghost hunters movies, shared that he was “deeply saddened” by the news. He called Reitman “a great man and filmmaker that I had [the] honor and privilege to know and work with. My deepest condolences to Jason and the entire family.”

Kumail Nanjiani called him a “legend”, adding that “the number of great films he has made is absurd”.

Judd Apatow recalled ghost hunters the opening night being “like a rock concert”, he wrote. “The place exploded with joy. It was one of the most memorable moments of my childhood. Ivan Reitman influenced everything we all love about cinematic comedy. A true legend.”

Mindy Kaling, who appeared in Reitman’s 2011 No Strings tiedcalled him “old school in the best and kindest way. I loved working with him. It’s sad he’s gone, it makes me feel older and I feel like the movies of my childhood are further away than ever.”

John Larroquette called Reitman a “comic book maestro”. He said the director “threw me in Grooves and inspired me to be funny.”

Here are some other tributes:

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