Remembrance: Harold Ramis, Class of 1966

Harold Ramis entered Washington University as a freshman in the fall of 1962 and moved into student housing on the “South Forty.”   He pledged Zeta Beta Tau and joined (at the time) the largest fraternity on campus, with one hundred members.  After a year in the dorms, Ramis moved into the ZBT Alpha Xi chapter house, at 7020 Forsyth Avenue.  This would be his home for the remaining three years on campus.

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Pictured his freshman year, with the rest of the Zetas, Harold Ramis is third from the left in the third row.

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ZBT performs “Animal Farce” with Sigma Delta Tau, at Bearskin Follies 1964.

The Hatchet yearbook indicates that on campus ZBT members were active, participating in Thurtene Carnival, inter-mural sports, and maintaining “a well-rounded program for relaxation.”   Ramis helped support the Zeta’s ZEEBS’ many entries into the campus comedic theater production, “Bearskin Follies.”

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This 1963-64 group photo includes “Ringo Mamis” in the front row, along with other creatively named ZBTs, such as “Snoopy Clare,” Sandy Wax,” and “Debby Kay.”

Junior year was busy for Ramis.  Bearskin Follies in February 1965 almost didn’t make it to production, but TBZ and three other Greek houses stepped up and raised the curtain in Brown Hall’s auditorium.  Ramis directed the ZBT- Kappa Alpha Theta original skit, “You Can’t Teach an Old Dogma New Tricks.” Set in 1776, the skit “attempted to show that the causes of the American Revolution were sexual rather than sectional.”  Ramis, Jan Phillips, and Rich Cohn played leads in this revolutionary production.

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Harold Ramis offers directions in Brown Hall, February 1965.

Ramis also joined the Washington University Choir, whose performances that year included Berlioz Requiem and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the St. Louis Symphony.  Symphony director Eleazar de Carvalho , noted in the yearbook, this was “the best amateur choir I have ever collaborated with.”   In the spring of 1965 the WU Choir performed in Ohio, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, New York City, and the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

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Harold Ramis with the WU Choir, center of the back row (wearing glasses).

Senior year found Ramis the Vice-President of ZBT.   And, like so many students occupied with other pressing concerns, Ramis did not have his photo taken for his Senior yearbook of 1966.

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In fact, the ZBT house almost missed being represented in the yearbook, until two members noticed the night before it shipped to the publisher that only seventeen “Zeb’s” had gotten their photos taken.  Some hasty additions added about 30 more portraits, but still the yearbook authors’ muse “we know there are more than seventeen ZBT’s; what we often wonder is if more than seventeen care.”

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Brookings Hall in circa 1965-1966.

On June 5, 1966 Harold Allen Ramis was awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree, from the College of Arts and Sciences, in the main Quadrangle of Washington University.  Graduation would not however be his last campus visit.

After graduation Ramis returned to campus numerous times.  In 1979 to visit his ZBT brothers (image left); in 1984 as Grand Marshall of the Homecoming parade; and many times more in the 1990s-2000s.

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Updated 03/12/2014

About the author

Miranda Rectenwald is Curator of Local History, Washington University Special Collections. More info.