Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman dies aged 75

The family did not reveal the cause of death. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Ivan Reitman, the influential director and producer of wildly popular comedies Ghostbusters (1984), National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) and Twins (1988), has died aged 75.

On Monday (Feb 14), Reitman's son Jason - himself a director of films such as Juno (2007) and Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) - tweeted: "I've lost my hero."

The family did not reveal the cause of death.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, who moved from violent action films into comedies Twins, Kindergarten Cop (1990) and Junior (1994) thanks to Ivan Reitman, led the praise from across Hollywood for a "legend" and "comedy royalty".

"I'll always be grateful that he took a chance on this Austrian action-hero in a comedy during a time when the studios just wanted me to focus on finding new ways to kill bad guys, blow things up and show off some muscles," said Schwarzenegger, who had been due to collaborate with Ivan Reitman in the sequel Triplets.

Over his decades-long career, Ivan Reitman produced and directed films that helped establish major comedic stars such as Bill Murray, who as well as starring in Ghostbusters also appeared in his hit movies Meatballs (1979) and Stripes (1981).

Ivan Reitman produced National Lampoon's Animal House, which became one of the most beloved and chaotic depictions of the system of fraternities and sororities in American colleges.

But it was Ghostbusters - one of the most popular comedies ever made - that launched a Hollywood dynasty.

The story of four men dressed in a version of firefighting gear tackling marshmallow monsters and slimy green spirits in a bid to save New York from a supernatural takeover has spawned several sequels and reboots.

The outfits worn by its four stars remain one of the most popular and recognisable Halloween costumes to this day.

"Truly a great man and filmmaker who I had honour and privilege of knowing and working with," tweeted Ernie Hudson, who played Ghostbuster Winston Zeddemore in the original and its 1989 sequel, and had a cameo in the 2016 reboot.

Paul Feig, who directed the 2016 version with an all-female cast of Ghostbusters, tweeted: "He directed some of my favorite comedies of all time. All of us in comedy owe him so very much."

Reitman was born in Komarno, in what is now Slovakia, on Oct 27, 1946.

His Jewish parents survived the Nazis but, four years after his birth, fled Czechoslovakia to escape communism.

They eventually made their home in Toronto.

He is survived by his son Jason and daughters Catherine - also an actor and producer - and Caroline.

"He came from a family of survivors and turned his legacy into laughter," wrote Jason Reitman.

"Thank you for the kind messages. Enjoy his movies and remember his storytelling gifts. Nothing would make him happier."

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