Ivan Reitman, the director behind films including Ghostbusters and Kindergarten Cop, has died at the age of 75.
According to Reitman’s family, the filmmaker and producer died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday (February 12) night at his home in Montecito, California.
“Our family is grieving the unexpected loss of a husband, father, and grandfather who taught us to always seek the magic in life,” Reitman’s children Jason, Catherine, and Caroline 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.”
Ernie Hudson, who played Winston Zeddemore in the 1984 film, wrote on Twitter: “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.” See more tributes below.
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
Reitman was born in Komarmo, Czechoslovakia to a mother that had survived Auschwitz and a father that was in the underground resistance. He and his family escaped to Vienna when he was only four, fleeing communist oppression at the time. The family eventually moved to Toronto, where Reitman quickly developed a love for entertainment and the world of showbiz.
In 1975, he produced the off-Broadway National Lampoon Show, where he connected with future stars of his films Bill Murray, John Belushi, Brian Doyle-Murray, Gilda Radner and Harold Ramis.
He received his big break in Hollywood when he produced National Lampoon’s Animal House in 1978 and directed Meatballs in 1979, the latter marking Bill Murray’s big screen debut. They teamed up again on Stripes and 1984’s Ghostbusters, where he found his most significant success.
In addition to the two original Ghostbusters films, Reitman was responsible for comedy classics like Twins, Kindergarten Cop, and Dave. As a producer, he was also behind Heavy Metal, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, Space Jam, Private Parks and Hitchcock.
"Tonight, the lady with the torch weeps, as do all of us at Columbia, and film lovers around the world. Ivan Reitman was an inseparable part of this studio's legacy, but more than that he was a friend. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/saVhBoBgFG
— Ghostbusters (@Ghostbusters) February 14, 2022
Sending so much love to the great @JasonReitman for the loss of his amazing father Ivan. Jason and Ivan have always been so supportive of me throughout my career and I’ll never be able to truly repay them both. This is such a sad day. ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/JUCTJuIwrq
— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) February 14, 2022
A legend. The number of great movies he made is absurd. RIP. https://t.co/1d1tWCdrcb
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) 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
Reitman’s final directorial effort was 2014’s Draft Day starring Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner. He also served as producer on the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot and the most recent Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which was directed by Reitman’s son Jason.
The first reviews for the film mostly praised Jason Reitman’s new take on the franchise, with particular plaudits for the new cast. Original cast members Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson reunited on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last year to discuss their involvement in the sequel.
“Jason Reitman wrote a great script, so full of heart, going right back to the first two movies and its DNA,” Aykroyd said. “We just read it and thought, ‘This is the right time’.
“Jason is the son of the original [Ghostbusters] director Ivan Reitman,” Murray added. “He had his own take because he grew up as a child of the Ghostbusters in a way. He had something he thought would work as a good story and we all agreed that he got it.”