Ivan Reitman, one of the most lauded and popular comedy filmmakers in Hollywood history, died peacefully in his sleep on Feb. 12 at his home in Montecito, California. He was 75.
After producing National Lampoon’s Animal House in 1978, Reitman then directed Meatballs, Stripes, and Ghostbusters over the following six years, all starring Bill Murray and going on to be regarded as comedy classics.
Reitman’s three children, Catherine Reitman, Caroline Reitman, and director Jason Reitman released a joint statement that said, "Our family is grieving the unexpected loss of a husband, father, and grandfather who taught us to always seek the magic in life. 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 was born in Czechoslovakia in 1946, but the family escaped the Iron Curtain when Ivan was only four, eventually settling in Toronto. He began making short films while studying music and drama at McMaster University in nearby Hamilton, Ontario. By 1971, Reitman had directed his first feature, Foxy Lady.
Reitman directed 17 features in total, which also included Legal Eagles, Twins, Ghostbusters II, Kindergarten Cop, Dave, Six Days Seven Nights, No Strings Attached, and Draft Day in 2014, which was his final film as director.
Reitman remained active as a producer his whole life, from ‘90s hits like Beethoven and Space Jam to the two Ghostbusters reboots of recent years, 2016’s all-female Ghostbusters and 2021’s Ghostbuster: Afterlife.
The latter film was directed by Ivan’s son, Jason Reitman, who is a highly successful filmmaker in his own right. Jason, a four-time Oscar nominee, is a director, writer, and producer. His films include Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air, Young Adult, Tully, and The Front Runner. Ivan and Jason received Oscar nominations together for producing the George Clooney starring Up in the Air when the 2009 drama was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
On Monday, Jason shared a sweet tribute to his father.
"I've lost my hero," he wrote on Twitter. "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."
Several others from the entertainment industry shared tributes and personal memories of Ivan, including Paul Feig (director of Bridesmaids and 2016’s Ghostbusters), Arnold Schwarzenegger (who starred in several of Ivan’s films, including Twins and Kindergarten Cop), Ernie Hudson (star of the Ghostbusters movies), and comedy filmmaker Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin).