Director and producer Ivan Reitman, the comedic mastermind who helped bring famous films like “Ghostbusters” and “Animal House” to the big screen, died Saturday at the age of 75, his family said.
The filmmaker’s family told The Associated Press he passed away in his sleep — and peacefully so — at his home in California.
“Our family is grieving the unexpected loss of a husband, father, and grandfather who taught us to always seek the magic in life,” his three children — Jason, Catherine, and Caroline — said in a joint statement to the AP.
“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.”
Reitman burst onto the scene more than four decades ago, producing the 1978 comedy “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” People reported.
He followed that up by directing two more beloved comedies, “Meatballs” and “Stripes,” both of which starred Bill Murray.
Arguably the most well-known film that Reitman made was 1984’s “Ghostbusters,” which he both produced and directed. The movie took in almost $300 million and earned Reitman a pair of Oscar nominations.
But those three films were far from the only highlights of Reitman’s career.
“Ivan’s other notable credits in his celebrated career include ‘Kindergarten Cop,’ ‘Junior,’ ‘Beethoven,’ ‘Old School’ and ‘Six Days, Seven Nights,’ among others,” according to People.
On social media, Reitman was remembered as a comedy film icon:
I’ve lost my hero.
All I want is the chance to tell my father one more story.
He came from a family of survivors and turned his legacy into laughter.
Thank you for the kind messages. Enjoy his movies and remember his storytelling gifts. Nothing would make him happier. pic.twitter.com/tSijfxSnLg
— Jason Reitman (@JasonReitman) February 14, 2022
I am deeply saddened by the loss of Ivan’ Reitman. Truly a great man and filmmaker who I had honor and privilege of knowing and working with. Deepest condolences to Jason and the entire family. May he RIP #jasonReitman
— Ernie Hudson (@Ernie_Hudson) February 14, 2022
Ivan Reitman produced Road Trip and there wasn’t, and still isn’t, a day that we forgot what a COMEDIC MASTER he was. Growing up on his work & THEN getting to work with him was a dream. He was encouraging, brilliant and pretty much right about everything. RIP Ivan and thank you
— Breckin Meyer (@breckinmeyer) February 14, 2022
Ivan Reitman was old school in the best way, and kind. I loved working with him. It’s sad he’s gone, it makes me feel older and like my childhood movies are more faraway than ever. RIP ❤️
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) February 14, 2022
Opening night of Ghostbusters at UA Plainview was like a rock concert. The place exploded with joy. It was one of the most memorable moments of my childhood. Ivan Reitman influenced everything we all love about film comedy. A true legend. https://t.co/AHKAoo1ahB
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) February 14, 2022
Ivan Reitman was very good to me and @chrizmillr. He sought us out and encouraged us when we made our first movie. He saw an early cut of Spider-verse (“Half of this is the best movie I have ever seen and the other half is bad”) and spent DAYS giving us helpful notes… RIP Ivan
— Phil Lord y Betancourt (@philiplord) February 14, 2022
One of the most special moments to me was after our last test screening of Ghostbusters:ATC after we did some reshoots and our scores went through the roof. Ivan met me out in the lobby and said “I’m so happy for you I feel like crying.” That’s the kind of generous man he was. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Y502HZp8Ck
— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) February 14, 2022
Writing in the Los Angeles Times, film critic Justin Chang underscored what made Reitman so special.
“At their most memorable, Reitman’s comedies all but erase the line between goofy slapdashery and polished craft,” he wrote.
“To look back at his movies — many of them more amiable than side-splitting — is to rifle through an assortment of hits and misses, a catalog of comic imperfection. That’s no bad thing, really. Imperfection sometimes ages better, or at least more endearingly, than perfection,” Chang added.
“Over the 16 or so features he directed over three decades (and the many, many more he produced), Reitman warmly embraced imperfection as both an innate human right and an overarching comic principle.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter’s John Defore, Reitman’s “mainstream craftsmanship was a gift.”
“Reitman’s talent for recognizing bold, catchy comic premises, tailoring them to his performers’ strengths and delivering a reliable level of polish made him a uniquely effective commercial filmmaker,” he wrote.