9 ways Ramis, dead at 69, made 'Caddyshack' great

Harold Ramis, a former caddie who directed and co-wrote "Caddyshack," died Feb. 24.

Harold Ramis, a former caddie who directed and co-wrote "Caddyshack," died Feb. 24.

Harold Ramis reached the hearts and funny bones of golfers everywhere with his 1980 directorial debut, "Caddyshack," which he also co-wrote. Ramis died Monday after reportedly battling an autoimmune disease for years.

Here are nine ways that entertainment website IMDB.com says Ramis worked his comedic magic in helping make "Caddyshack" perhaps the greatest golf movie of all time.

• • •

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: Ramis had worked as a caddie, as had Murray and brother/writer Brian Doyle Murray – whose experiences had served as the inspiration for the film.

SPACKLER'S 'CINDERELLA STORY': A good boss knows when to let the talent around him shine. So Ramis simply told Bill Murray to bring improv to the stage – and have character Carl Spackler announce his own sports-fantasy story.

BRIDGING CHASE, MURRAY: When Ramis realized Murray and Chevy Chase did not have a scene together in the movie, despite being comedic stars of their day, he got them together for lunch to settle a feud that dated to their "Saturday Night Live" days – and write the scene together.

CHANGING ON THE FLY: Chase, Murray and Rodney Dangerfield were intended for cameo appearances, not full-fledged roles – but the improv atmosphere that Ramis fostered allowed them to commandeer the film. Neither the loose work on the set nor the altered product in the end sat well with, say Ted Knight.

DEBUT DEDICATION: One can imagine the late-night parties that took place after filming ended each day – but Ramis avoided them in favor of focusing on the next day's work. He attended the final wrap party, though.

NOT ENTIRELY GENIUS: The famed "Caddyshack" gopher was originally envisioned by Ramis as being played by a live gopher. That, obviously, didn't work out, and the role was filled by animatronic expertise – with the scenes written and filmed after the actors had finished their parts.

NO MULLIGANS: The studio had Ramis, though he didn't know it, on a double-secret probation of sorts: The first-time director would have been replaced if his work didn't hold up to standards.

PEACEMAKER, PART DEUX: Chase's improvisations while filming his cabana scene with Cindy Thomas disturbed the actress so much that Ramis had to step in, after which the rest of the scene went smoothly.

THE SPACKLER THAT ALMOST WASN'T: Originally, the awkward greenskeeper was supposed to be played by a war veteran, but he couldn't remember his lines. That led to Murray and his improvisational talents taking center stage.

• • •

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