The daughter of legendary filmmaker Harold Ramis (1944-2014) chronicles her wild Hollywood upbringing and close relationship with her father.
Even in the pre-internet era, having a permissive and free-wheeling celebrity parent could be challenging, as Stiel proves in detailing her youthful rebelliousness, drug use, and promiscuity. There were, however, obvious advantages as well, ranging from the opportunity to hang out with legendary actors in exotic locations to financial support that enabled a directionless young woman to eventually find her way in the world. By turns frank and fawning when assessing her extended family’s ability to navigate the perils of public life, the author’s affection for her dad, a beloved figure in Hollywood, dominates the narrative. She joins the #metoo movement by (gently) chiding her father for some of the more questionable scenes in his movies and, more movingly, by sharing her own story of abuse at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend at age 9. While there are some juicy nuggets of gossip sprinkled throughout—the most shocking being the revelation that Harold Ramis was the father of Clueless director Amy Heckerling’s daughter—fans looking for new insight into the two-decade rift between Ramis and Bill Murray that followed the completion of Groundhog Day or behind-the-scenes Ghostbusters secrets will be disappointed. The book closes with a sobering account of the director’s long bout with vasculitis, an ordeal his wife kept under wraps in hopes of preserving his ability to return to work if he recovered, depriving his family of support from the entertainment community when they needed it most. After his death, Ramis received an outpouring of love, though the author struggled to come to grips with his passing even as she focused on raising her own children.
A touching homage to a beloved father and a sufficiently amusing tribute to a comedy legend, but it’s less compelling as a memoir.