Ivan Reitman, the influential filmmaker and producer of popular comedies including Ghostbusters, Animal House and Twins, has died at the age of 75.
Reitman died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Montecito, Calif., on Saturday night, his family told the Associated Press. No cause of death was given.
“Our family mourns the unexpected loss of a husband, father and grandfather who taught us to always seek the magic in life,” their children Jason, Catherine and Caroline Reitman said in a joint statement.
“We take comfort in the fact that his work as a filmmaker has brought laughter and happiness to countless people around the world. As we mourn privately, we hope those who knew him through his films will always remember him.
Filmmakers and comedians lined up Monday to pay tribute. 2016 Ghostbusters reboot director Paul Feig wrote, “I’ve had the honor of working so closely with Ivan and it’s always been such a learning experience… We all in the comedy scene owe him so much.” Comedian Kumail Nanjiani tweeted : “The legend. The number of great films he’s made is absurd.”
Known for big, rough comedies that hit the zeitgeist. Reitman was born in 1946 in Komarmo, Czechoslovakia. His mother survived Auschwitz, his father was in the underground resistance and owned the country’s largest vinegar factory. Reitman was only four years old when his family fled communist oppression and traveled to Vienna in 1950 in a boarded-up barge.
The family hooked up with a relative in Toronto, where Reitman showed his show business inclinations—founding a puppet theater, hosting summer camps, and playing in coffeehouses with a folk music group. He studied music and acting at McMaster University and began making short films.
In 1975 they produced the Off-Broadway National Lampoon Show, starring Bill Murray, John Belushi, Brian Doyle-Murray, Gilda Radner and Harold Ramis – all unknowns who would later star in Reitman’s films.
His big break came with the raucous National Lampoon’s Animal House fraternity show, which he produced. He directed Bill Murray in his first starring role in Meatballs and then again in Stripes, but his most notable success came in 1984’s Ghostbusters.
The irreverent supernatural comedy starring Murray, Aykroyd, Moranis, Ramis, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver not only grossed nearly $300 million worldwide, it earned two Academy Award nominations and spawned a veritable franchise, including a sequel, Spin -offs, games and television shows. A new movie, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, was released last year; It was directed by his son Jason, also a filmmaker, and produced by Reitman.
Among other notable films Reitman has directed include Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Dave, Junior and Six Days, Seven Nights. His last directorial work, the Kevin Costner film Draft Day, was released in 2014.
Deadline reported last year that Reitman was set to direct and produce a sequel to Twins, titled Triplets. Filming was slated to begin in January 2022, with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito set to reprise their roles, with comedian Tracy Morgan playing her long-lost sibling.
Reitman also produced several hits including Beethoven, Space Jam, Old School and EuroTrip. He produced two of Jason’s films, Ghostbusters: Afterlife and his son’s 2009 film Up in the Air. “It was a learning experience for me,” Reitman told the Guardian in November. “At one point we had a terrible disagreement and Jason said to me, ‘I’ve worked with a lot of different producers and nobody’s talked to me like you have.’ And I was like, ‘Whoa! He’s right! ‘ I had to think of him as a professional, not my son to boss around.”
Reitman is survived by his wife Genevieve and their three children.