Ivan Reitman, 'Ghostbusters' director, remembered by Hollywood as 'a true legend'

Ivan Reitman, the Ghostbusters director and Animal House producer, is being remembered by Hollywood following his death on Saturday at age 75.

"Our family is grieving the unexpected loss of a husband, father, and grandfather who taught us to always seek the magic in life," his family — wife Geneviève and children Jason, Catherine and Caroline Reitman — said in a 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."

Canadian filmmaker Ivan Reitman attends the
Filmmaker Ivan Reitman attends the Ghostbusters: Afterlife New York premiere at AMC Lincoln Square on November 15, 2021 in New York City. (Photo: ANGELA WEISS / AFP)

The filmmaker, who died peacefully in his sleep at his Montecito, Calif., home, got his break producing 1978's Animal House starring John Belushi. He went on to direct 1979's Meatballs, giving Bill Murray his first starring role, and 1981's Stripes with Murray and (screenwriter/actor) Harold Ramis. That was followed by the 1984 blockbuster Ghostbusters, which starred Murray, Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis, as well as its 1989 sequel. He produced 2016's Ghostbusters: Answer the Call and 2021's Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the latter directed by his son, Jason.

Reitman also put Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first big comedy, 1988's Twins, and also directed him in 1990's Kindergarten Cop and 1994's Junior.

There have been many tributes, leading with one from his son, Jason. Along with a throwback photo of them on the set, he wrote, "I've lost my hero. 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... Enjoy his movies and remember his storytelling gifts. Nothing would make him happier."

Aykroyd, who penned the Ghostbusters script and played Dr. Raymond Stantz in the films, wrote, "Feeling heartbreak today for Geneviève, Catherine, Caroline, Jason and family. The loss of my friend, collaborator, champion and one of the last great creative talents of the BIG SCREEN ERA crumples me. Now on Thursdays who am I gonna call?"

Schwarzenegger called Reitman "a legend," "comedy royalty," "bigger than life," "a mensch" and "a great human being."

He said he would "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. I knew I could make it in comedy, but I needed someone else to know it to make it a reality. That's why Ivan was a great director and friend: he could see something in you that other people didn’t, and he could help you show the rest of the world."

Schwarzenegger said making Twins, Junior, and Kindergarten Cop with Ivan "was heaven for me," and he was looking forward to being back on set with him to film Triplets this fall.

"I can’t believe I won't work with him again or hang out with him again or just schmooze about life again," he wrote, saying he's "devastated" by the loss.

The official Ghostbusters social media account had a statement from Tom Rothman, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group that said "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. A great talent and an even finer man; he will be dearly missed. We send his family all our condolences."

Paul Feig, who directed 2016's Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, wrote, "I had the honor of working so closely with Ivan and it was always such a learning experience. He directed some of my favorite comedies of all time. All of us in comedy owe him so very much."

Ernie Hudson, who played Winston Zeddemore in the Ghostbusters films, shared that he was "deeply saddened" by the news. He called Reitman "a great man and filmmaker who I had [the] honor and privilege of knowing and working with. Deepest condolences to Jason and the entire family."

Kumail Nanjiani called him "a legend," adding, "the number of great movies he made is absurd."

Judd Apatow recalled Ghostbusters opening night being "like a rock concert," he wrote. "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."

Mindy Kaling, who appeared in Reitman's 2011 No Strings Attached, called him "old school in the best way, and kind. I loved working with him. It's sad he's gone, it makes me feel older and like my childhood movies are more faraway than ever."

John Larroquette called Reitman a "comic maestro." He said the director "cast me in Stripes and inspired me to be funny."

Jennifer Garner, who made 2014's Draft Day with Reitman, recalled their work experience, writing, "He would rush in with so many notes and ideas my brain would explode trying to keep track and execute – getting a laugh or good job from Ivan equaled Day Made."

Here are more tributes: