Irish actor Chris O'dowd raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for animal welfare while working in a call centre by inventing endangered species to save. The Bridesmaids star took a job cold-calling before he found fame, and his main duties included encouraging donations of cash to help protect the planet's wildlife.
Most targets would refuse to agree to contribute any money, so prankster O'Dowd began making up exotic-sounding animals such as a 'Tiger Swan' or 'Dolphinwhale' to baffle his listeners - and the money came pouring in.
He tells British GQ magazine, "More often than not, it was a bat in New Zealand or something. I'd tell people about them, and they'd be like, 'F**king shoot it. You want bullets? Is that what you want?'... (The Tiger Swan) made me the most money. I raised more than £300,000 on that day, just by myself. A swan with the stripes of a tiger. Very rare. Lives in Mali. People would say, 'I've never heard of it!' and I'd be like, 'Well, it's f**king rare! If they were everywhere, we'd be fine! I wouldn't have called!'
"The Dolphinwhale was the size of a whale, but it loved humans. Loved swimming with people, so would always get beached. Very sad."
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
For many of us who grew up in the 1980s, hearing that Harold Ramis died was a hard one. We'd seen so many of those movies that he'd either had a hand in writing, directing, or acting in: Meatballs, Caddyshack, Animal House, Stripes and Ghostbusters, just to name a few. It was one hell of a run right there, added to the fact that he also helmed the '90s classic Groundhog Day.
Ramis was the perfect foil for the more blustering types that appeared in his films: Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Bill Murray were the big four. They were the ones who had all the wild and wacky things happen to them, while the nebbish Ramis hung in the background, or even sometimes stood in for a prop: Remember when he was a human buffer in the fight in the barracks in Stripes? Having to hold back a violent John Candy should earn anyone some hazard pay, acting or not.
Alongside these alphas, Ramis conveyed a kind of genial warmth in whatever project he was in. His turn as the laid-back father of Seth Rogen in Knocked Up was a bit of an existential moment: Egon was a dad now, ready to become a grandfather. Just like a good majority of us '80s kids who were having children of our own.
What made all of the aforementioned movies so great was not only their endearing zaniness, but the intelligence in the humor as well. There was never the feeling that Ramis was pandering to the lowest common denominator to mine some laughs. Sure, there were goofy moments, like Belushi's Bluto Blutarski starting a food fight in a college cafeteria, but the set-ups were exquisite. Additionally, Ramis projected an everyman persona on the screen — he wasn't terribly photogenic, with his Frankensteinian hair, glasses, and gap-tooth smile. He looked like any of us on the street (especially if you were high school valedictorian). His movies just always made you feel like you were sitting with an old friend who could always make crack you up.
Many years later, that feeling persists. The magic of Ramis' films is that I'm able to become young again when I rewatch Ghostbusters or Animal House for like the 40th time. And although we may have lost him, I like to imagine Ramis is talking somewhere with other great filmmakers who died too young — say, Jim Henson and John Hughes — and coming up with one heck of a movie. The Muppets Take Groundhog Day? It's one I'm sure that I would watch over and over.
Rest in peace, Harold. Thank you for everything.
Bill Murray ended his 21-year estrangement from his longtime pal and collaborator Harold Ramis shortly before he died by visiting the ailing actor/director in his native Chicago, Illinois. The Ghostbusters co-stars fell out following a dispute on the set of 1993's Groundhog Day and Ramis revealed in a 2009 interview that the old friends had "no social relationship whatsoever".
However, editors at the National Enquirer claim Murray's brother, actor and screenwriter Brian Doyle-Murray, helped the pair reconcile as Ramis' health deteriorated due to a rare blood disease.
A source says, "Bill's brother, Brian Doyle-Murray, played peacemaker. Brian had made seven films with Harold and considered himself a good friend.
"He told Bill he needed to put aside his differences and see his pal one last time before he was gone.
"Bill and Harold talked about Chicago and the Cubs (the city's baseball team) - they'd both been lifelong fans. After that, Harold was finally at peace... and so was Bill."
Ramis passed away on Monday (24Feb14), at the age of 69, and Murray saluted the late star in a statement which reads, "Harold Ramis and I together did the National Lampoon Show off Broadway, Meatballs, Stripes, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day. He earned his keep on this planet. God bless him."
Bill Murray has paid tribute to his Ghostbusters co-star and frequent collaborator Harold Ramis, following his death on Monday (24Feb14). The actor, writer and filmmaker, passed away at the age of 69 from complications of a rare blood disease, and now Murray is the latest member of the beloved Ghostbusters franchise to share his condolences.
The funnyman released a statement that reads: "Harold Ramis and I together did the National Lampoon Show off Broadway, Meatballs, Stripes, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day. He earned his keep on this planet. God bless him."
Despite the fact the duo found success with a string of comedy classics in the 1980s and 1990s, Ramis revealed in a 2009 interview with website TheAVClub.com that he had not spoken to Murray since 1993's Groundhog Day over an on-set dispute, and had "no social relationship whatsoever".
Along with Murray and Ramis, actor Dan Aykroyd rounded out the trio of parapsychologists in Ghostbusters, and he expressed his sadness over the passing of his good friend on Monday as well.
A statement issued to The Hollywood Reporter reads: "(I am) deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my brilliant, gifted, funny friend, co-writer/performer and teacher Harold Ramis. May he now get the answers he was always seeking."
Hollywood stars Jon Favreau, Seth Macfarlane, Elijah Wood and Eli Roth are among the celebrities leading the tributes to Harold Ramis following his death on Monday (24Feb14). The actor, writer and director, best known for his work on Ghostbusters, Caddyshack and Groundhog Day, passed away at the age of 69.
Ramis' death stunned celebrity fans and friends, who have flooded Twitter.com with touching tributes.
Actor/director Favreau writes, "No no not Harold Ramis. Worked for him years ago. He was the real deal. Growing up, his work changed my life. He will be missed", while Roth tweets, "Oh no, Harold Ramis died. One of my filmmaking heroes. Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day... So sad."
Family Guy creator MacFarlane posts, "Harold Ramis was a brilliant, shining example for every comedy writer hoping to achieve excellence the field. He will be sorely missed", and actor Wood writes, "awful news about Harold Ramis. very sad, indeed."
Meanwhile, British comedian Stephen Fry hailed Ramis as "a comedy hero", while Scrubs star Zach Braff credited the late funnyman with inspiring him to pursue a career in showbusiness, writing: "If you're my age and got into comedy, Harold Ramis was one of the reasons. Life is fast and over too soon."
Patton Oswalt, Karate Kid star Ralph Macchio, Eliza Dushku, Rashida Jones and Mark Hoppus from Blink-182 have also tweeted their shock and sadness following the tragic news.
Ghostbusters star Harold Ramis has died at the age of 69. The actor and filmmaker passed away early on Monday (24Feb14) following a battle with rare blood disease autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Ramis started out as a playwright in college, honing his skills by penning parodies and editing Playboy magazine's jokes section in the late 1960s. He joined the Second City improvisational comedy group, where he met John Belushi and Ghostbusters co-star Bill Murray.
The trio went on to work together on the New York-based radio show The National Lampoon Radio Hour in the early 1970s and Ramis' work on the programme helped him land a job as a co-writer of the 1978 comedy film, National Lampoon's Animal House, which starred Belushi.
He and Murray became frequent collaborators, and Ramis served as writer/director on their hit movies Caddyshack and Groundhog Day. He also wrote and directed Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal's 1999 comedy Analyze This.
As an actor, Ramis was perhaps best known for his role as bespectacled ghost hunter Dr. Egon Spengler in 1984's Ghostbusters and its sequel, while he also played Russell Ziskey in another Murray collaboration, 1981's Stripes.
His other acting credits included As Good as It Gets, High Fidelity and Knocked Up, in which he was cast as Seth Rogen's dad.
Ramis also directed The Ice Harvest, Bedazzled and prehistoric comedy Year One, which was to be his final movie in 2009.
His final years were marred by private health battles - he suffered an infection in May, 2010, which caused complications related to his ongoing autoimmune disease and robbed him of his ability to walk. He recovered only to be struck down by the condition again in late 2011.
It is not clear how Ramis' death will affect the planned second Ghostbusters sequel, which has been in development for some time.
Cartoonist Morris Turner has died at the age of 90. The illustrator, also known as Morrie Turner, passed away peacefully at a hospital in Sacramento, California on Saturday (25Jan14).
He began his career during World War II, when he had his early works published in America's Stars and Stripes military news publication, and went on to create his own comic strip, Wee Pals, at the encouragement of his mentor, Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz.
The ethnically-diverse cartoon about a group of buddies became a big hit in the late 1960s and made Turner the first African American artist to be syndicated nationally. His work was also known for recognising prominent figures in black history.
Turner was honoured for his work in 2000, when officials at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco presented him with the Sparky Award, named in memory of the late Schulz. He also received the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Cartoonist Society in 2003 and was most recently presented with the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award for his charity work at the San Diego Comic-Con event in 2012.
Legendary musician Neil Young and rocker Jack White have reportedly teamed up to record a new covers album. Online rumours suggest Young and White united for a cover of late folk singer Bert Jansch's Needle of Death at the former White Stripes star's studio in Nashville, Tennessee in April, 2013, and decided to keep working together.
There is no official release date for the project, which will reportedly feature renditions of tracks by folk legends Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Tim Hardin and Gordon Lightfoot.
Iconic concert poster artist Gary Grimshaw has died at the age of 67. Grimshaw passed away on Monday (13Jan14) in Detroit, Michigan after a long battle with several undisclosed illnesses.
The artist was best known for creating concert posters for Detroit's Grande Ballroom in the 1960s, and created artwork for gigs featuring Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.
Paying tribute to the artist, MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer says, "As kids, Gary Grimshaw was the best artist in our neighbourhood... Of course, Gary became a truly great artist and friend and his art made the world a more beautiful place."
In addition to his concert poster art, Grimshaw also contributed pieces to newspapers and magazines.
He most recently worked with the White Stripes and the Detroit Cobras on posters for their shows.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has been off the air far too long for our tastes: we can hardly wait for the mid-season premiere, and here's a few reasons why.
* First of all, the mid-season finale seriously left us hanging. Is Mike Peterson (J. August Richards) alive? Is Coulson alive?
* That is, if he was ever alive in the first place: the trailer hints that we'll finally find out what happened to Coulson (currently, the most popular theory is of the Life Model Decoy variety). Alone, I wouldn't necessarily think the show would deliver on this, but the fact that Ron Glass (who cameo'd as Coulson's doctor in the pilot) is returning is very, very telling.
* Judging from the image above, we're going to see Skye getting in on some of the action on the show. Our favorite agent-in-training may finally be earning her stripes on the field!
* Speaking of Skye: did any of yall see this clip of Agent May betraying her?
What do you think? A red herring? Or the truth? Either May's finally come to the end of her rope with Skye (who is arguably SHIELD's most obnoxious main player), or it's a case of pushing her away to save her. Either way, it's sure to provide some good ol' fashioned character-driven conflict.
* From the past few episodes, we've been treated with little doses of MayWard, which has actually proven to be beneficial in terms of character development to both parties involved; I loved their little scene together last week – May chewing Ward out for protecting her, and Ward brushing it off as a tactical decision was pitch-perfect. (Though I still ship Skimmons even more).
Since "F.Z.Z.T," the show has been on a decided upswing, and with a bit of luck, the second half of the season will continue to deliver stronger and stronger content. Buffy, we've got you in our sights!