I always thought there was no better actor to portray my family’s namesake on screen than Harold Ramis as Dr. Egon Spengler. The book-end to Bill Murray’s wild Dr. Venkman was smart, serious, sweet and played perfectly straight by the talented actor. It showed that this great talent was as keen an actor as he was a writer and director. The true triple threat that was so rare in filmmaking.
Sure it was spelled with an e instead of an a, but that didn’t stop hundreds of people through my life commenting, “oh, like the guy in Ghostbusters”, after they heard my last name mentioned. The really cool thing was that the real Harold Ramis looked like the doppelgänger to my midwest born-and-raised father.
In "As Good As It Gets" he played another Doctor, the comforting Dr. Bettes who appears at the home of Helen Hunt’s family as a gift from Melvin Udall. He sits in her kitchen and walks through how he’s gonna help make her son feel better. He talks about allergy issues that I heard my father mention growing up and has a calming power over the worried mother and daughter that made it seem like everything was all gonna be all right.
Every detail about the character was personified in my own father. A Doctor as well (an Allergist in fact) I remember watching it for the first time and starting to tear up thinking of him and how this man was able to portray someone like him in such a real way. The physical similarities only made it closer to home but it was the personality and warmth that was so clearly communicated.
I didn’t know the man, but you could tell he was a special, caring person. I’m sure he’s laughing and smiling wherever he is. Excuse me, I’m gonna go give my dad a call.