Barack Obama praised actor, writer and director Harold Ramis, who died yesterday at the age of 69, as “one of America’s greatest satirists” in a touching statement that detailed his and Michelle Obama’s relationship with the entertainer, according to The Hollywood Reporter. And, for good measure, the President even snuck in an excellent, poignant Caddyshack reference.
“When we watched his movies – from Animal House and Caddyshack to Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day – we didn’t just laugh until it hurt,” Obama said. “We questioned authority. We identified with the outsider. We rooted for the underdog. And through it all, we never lost our faith in happy endings.”
Obama went on to offer his condolences to the comedian’s wife, children and grandchildren, as well as those “who quote his work with abandon and who hope that he received total consciousness.” That final line is a reference to Bill Murray’s shaggy-dog story in Caddyshack about getting stiffed for a tip by the Dalai Lama after carrying his golf clubs. “There won’t be any money,” Murray’s Carl Spackler recalls the Twelfth son of the Lama saying. “But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness. So I got that going for me, which is nice.”
Ramis honed his comedic talents at Chicago’s legendary improv theater Second City, where he met Murray, John Belushi and Gilda Radner, whom he continued to work with on National Lampoon’s radio hour. After co-writing Animal House (1978), Ramis continued to perfect his blend of humor that was as raunchy as it was anti-authoritarian, making his directorial debut with Caddyshack (1980). While many point to Groundhog Day (1993) as his crowning achievement, Ramis’ filmography also includes smart, but screwball, classics like Meatballs (1979), Stripes (1981) and Analyze This (1999). Ramis died at his home after a long battle with autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis surrounded by family.