Ghostbusters Actor Deaths You May Not Know About

It's no secret that the "Ghostbusters" franchise is a pretty amazing series that's stood the test of time. There's a sad bit of truth that comes with that, though. "Ghostbusters" came out in 1984, and it was followed by "Ghostbusters II" in 1989. That was forever ago, and with the relentless march of time, actors are aging and the inevitable is going to happen.

That most famously happened in 2014, when Harold Ramis passed away at the age of 69. His role as Dr. Egon Spengler was just a small piece of his wildly successful career, and it's one that was perhaps best summed up by a quote from The Chicago Tribune Magazine writer Paul Weingarten (via The New York Times). Way back in 1983, he wrote, "More than anyone else, Harold Ramis has shaped this generation's ideas of what is funny."

Ramis' death came four years after he was diagnosed with autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, which is a condition that interferes with the circulatory system's ability to deliver blood throughout the body and organs. Years later, fans were still paying tribute to him on the anniversary of his death, leading his daughter, Violet Ramis Stiel, to post on X: "Although grief is ever-present, today I am filled with love and appreciation for all he was and the many gifts he gave us." He wasn't the only cast member who has passed away, so let's look at some of the others we've said goodbye to.

Wilhelm von Homburg

"Ghostbusters II" is a bit of an anomaly, in that it's a sequel that was arguably as good as the original. That was in large part due to the terrifying Vigo the Carpathian, the threatening, glowering, ghost-in-a-painting played by the German-born Wilhelm von Homburg. The real von Homburg was just as terrifying, and when he died on March 10, 2004, at age 63, his half-sister (who was perhaps also his daughter) only found out about it a month later. Why? Von Homburg — born Norbert Grupe — had left instructions for a friend to call her one month after his death, and only say, "Touché."

Von Homburg died of prostate cancer, a terminal diagnosis he shared with Rona Grupe while sitting outside of her California office. It was the end of a bizarre, brutal life that involved his father, Richard Grupe — a towering figure who got the attention of Nazi leader Hermann Göring, joined the German police force, and eventually served in the Nazi army. Von Homburg and his father wrestled together as a duo known as The Vikings. That's about the time he changed his name to "Prince" Wilhelm von Homburg and switched to boxing.

His acting career ran parallel with his boxing career, but it more or less peaked with his role as Vigo. When Deadspin profiled von Homburg in 2015, they reached out to "Ghostbusters II" executive producer Michael C. Gross. They wanted to know how he came to be cast, and got a single sentence in response: "I can only say he was a crude bigoted a******."

Stephen Boss

Stephen "Twitch" Boss might be better known as Ellen DeGeneres' DJ and a dancer (and later judge) on "So You Think You Can Dance," but he also appeared in 2016's "Ghostbusters." In December 2022, it was reported that the 40-year-old actor had died by suicide. His wife, fellow dancer Allison Holker Boss (pictured with him), issued a statement (via the Los Angeles Times), saying: "To say he left a legacy would be an understatement, and his positive impact will continue to be felt. ... Stephen, we love you, we miss you, and I will always save the last dance for you."

Several months after his death, Allison spoke with People on dealing with grief and finding a way forward. She was candid about the struggles she faced after losing someone she loved to suicide, and said that in an attempt to both honor his memory and help others, she had founded a mental health charity called the Move with Kindness Foundation. She said it was inspired partially by a conversation with a close friend, and by other conversations she'd had with complete strangers.

"I've had so many people — specifically men — reaching out to me, [saying] how they were so affected because they didn't realize how much they were holding on to and not expressing," she said. On a personal level, she added, "Dancing with him was so special. I haven't danced yet. That's gonna be a big step for me, but I know that I'll get there. He's guiding me on this path."

Casey Kasem

Forgot Casey Kasem was in "Ghostbusters," right? That's fine — it was more precisely his iconic voice that made an appearance, as he did a radio segment on the group as they took the city by storm and skyrocketed to fame as everyone's favorite ghost hunters. Kasem died in 2014 at the age of 82, and it was announced that he had been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia. (That's the same diagnosis that was revealed in the autopsy report of Robin Williams.)

Before his death, Kasem was in the middle of a heartbreaking family split, as his three children from a previous marriage went to court with his wife of 34 years, Jean Kasem. Accusations made by both sides were pretty shocking: Kerri, Julie, and Michael Kasem claimed their father had been subjected to severe elder abuse and exploitation at the hands of their stepmother, while Jean claimed the three were only trying to find a way around the fact that he had cut financial ties with them in 2012. 

An investigation into his death was opened in 2018, and the matter was settled the following year. The Kasem children behind the lawsuit issued a statement saying they felt as though they were forced into settling, but no wrongdoing was discovered in the course of the investigation.

Paddi Edwards

It doesn't matter how good a story is — if the stakes aren't high enough and the big bad guy isn't bad enough, what's to keep audiences invested? One of the things that made the first "Ghostbusters" great was the big baddie: Gozer. Gozer reappeared in 2021's "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," and if it seemed like the character wasn't quite the same, there's a good reason for that. While Gozer's on-screen, physical form was portrayed by Slavitza Jovan (pictured) in the original, the voice was supplied by British actress Paddi Edwards. And it's pretty much a guarantee that everyone's familiar with her voice. She had an epic career that spanned decades and included voice work in movies such as "The Little Mermaid" (as Flotsam and Jetsam) and "Hercules" (as Atropos).

Details about her death are scarce. She passed away in 1999 at the age of 67, apparently from respiratory failure. Some of her work — including voice work for "The Little Mermaid II" video game — was released posthumously.

Henry J. Deutschendorf II

Along with his twin brother, William, Henry J. Deutschendorf II played the adorable Baby Oscar in "Ghostbusters II." Neither twin stuck with acting, and instead, they became martial arts instructors at a California academy. Tragically, Henry became one of many child stars who have passed away when he died by suicide on June 14, 2017. Although Henry's death was reported by mainstream media outlets, it was William's blog post for the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation that told the full story.

In it, William wrote that his brother had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, adding that since it was a condition that hadn't been extensively studied, "treatment is largely an estimation based on schizophrenia and bipolar treatments." That's a heartbreaking thing to hear about mental health care, and William went on to say that the medications Henry had been prescribed didn't help. He wrote, "By the end he had 25 voices, all with different personalities and opinions, but mostly agreeing they did not like Hank."

William also stressed that his brother hadn't been defined by his illness, describing him as the best brother, the most fun uncle, the most dedicated martial artist, and the best friend that their family had known. "For Hank, it was quality over quantity," he wrote, adding, "It is very important to our family to help spread awareness about mental illness, and suicide prevention. If your first reaction is to ask us what you can do, it's to help us do everything we can to help others suffering from the same illness as Hank."

Ruth Hale Oliver

Every horror movie — even those that cross heavily into comedy territory — needs at least one good jump scare. If there was any moment in "Ghostbusters" that supplied the nightmare fuel for an entire generation, it was the moment that the kind-looking librarian turns into a snarling, toothy, terrifying creature in a hide-behind-the-couch moment that teaches a very important lesson: When the librarian says, "Shhhh!" everyone seriously needs to listen. That librarian was played by Ruth Hale Oliver, who counted the film as one of her only two screen acting credits. She did have another claim to fame, though, and that was as an astrologer.

Oliver wrote books including "Physique, Temperament and Psyche: An Astrological Approach," and published an entire book of poetry when she was just 15 years old. She even took a crack at translating the Phaistos Disk, a mysterious (and currently as yet untranslated) clay tablet believed to date from between 1850 and 1550 B.C. Oliver died in 1988, when she was in her late 70s.

Ivan Reitman

Ivan Reitman was the director for "Ghostbusters," and not technically a star ... right? Not so fast: In addition to appearing in a brief outside shot in "Ghostbusters II," Reitman was also the uncredited voices of both Slimer and Zuul. In a heartbreaking but touching full-circle sort of thing, Reitman also appeared in "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" ... sort of. Even as his son, Jason Reitman, stepped into the director's spot, Ivan donned Egon Spengler's uniform and stood in for the late Harold Ramis. 

In a brilliant interview with The Guardian, Jason and Ivan Reitman sat down to talk about what it was like to pass the torch from father to son. When Ivan took a break — to collect himself and wipe away the tears — Jason explained, "It's emotional for both of us. I found myself on set all [the] time, making directorial decisions and realizing that my father had made the exact same decision 35 years ago. It's like when you realize you put your hands on the steering wheel the same way your parents did..."

Jason explained that some of Ivan was in each of the Ghostbusters: Egon's brilliance, Ray's passion, Venkman's humor, and Winston's business sensibility. His father teared up again: "Thank you. That's beautiful. Thank you." Ivan Reitman's death at age 75 was confirmed to the Associated Press in 2022. His three children released a statement saying that Reitman had died peacefully at his home, and added, "While we mourn privately, we hope those who knew him through his films will remember him always."

George Wilbur

Actors might have the most high-profile of all movie roles, but there's no denying that movies wouldn't be the same without the fearless contributions of stunt performers. George Wilbur was a stuntman in both "Ghostbusters" and "Ghostbusters II," and he also played a bailiff in the second movie. He actually has quite a wild resume: In addition to being a stunt performer or coordinator in more than 100 films, he had 50 acting credits, too. Perhaps most famously, he's one of the actors who donned that famous mask as Michael Myers.

Wilbur's movie career got started in the 1960s, when he worked as a double for John Wayne. That was quickly followed by stunt work in films like "Planet of the Apes" and "The Poseidon Adventure," and TV shows that included "Gunsmoke." He would ultimately be inducted into the Hollywood Stuntmen's Hall of Fame, with his last stunt credit coming in 2013. The 81-year-old Wilbur died in 2023.

(Interested in learning more about some of the wildest stunts and camera tricks of the silent era? Check this out!)

Louise Troy

Louise Troy (pictured in a scene from a Broadway production) had a brief but memorable appearance in "Ghostbusters II," and it was one that was not only a reminder that when you're in New York City, you should probably always watch where you're walking ... but also a reminder that fur coats once had faces and feelings. She's the one wearing the fur coat that comes to life after she steps in some mysterious ooze, and it was actually one of her last roles. 

Troy died in 1994, after being diagnosed with breast cancer. It was the end of an impressively long career that had seen her receive multiple Tony nominations, along with accolades for her work on the stage and screen. Not only was she a familiar face on Broadway, but she was also familiar to fans of "Hogan's Heroes." Troy appeared in three episodes, and she was the real-life former wife of camp commandant Colonel Klink actor Werner Klemperer.

David Margulies

The first two installments of the "Ghostbusters" films wouldn't have been the same if they hadn't been set in New York City. There's just something about that hardened, been-there, done-that, not-impressed attitude that works, and that included the response of the city's mayor. A thinly veiled reference to longtime NYC mayor Ed Koch, David Margulies played Lenny Clotch — a mayor who'd clearly had enough of all that nonsense. Margulies — who was, in fact, a New York City native — had a long career, with roles on "The Sopranos," "Blue Bloods," and two "Law & Order" series. (The city, meanwhile, has a long history with the otherworldly and mysterious: At one time, New York City had an official magician.) 

The 78-year-old Margulies passed away in 2016, and according to a statement issued by his family, his death came after he was diagnosed with cancer. Several of his performances — including his depiction of Elie Wiesel in the miniseries "Madoff" — were released posthumously. (Check out this piece to learn more about Wiesel and other famous people who survived the Holocaust.)

Max von Sydow

While Vigo the Carpathian kind of made "Ghostbusters II," bringing the character to the screen was something of a challenge. While the face on the screen belonged to wrestler-turned-boxer-turned-actor Wilhelm von Homburg, the voice wasn't his at all. In fact, the story goes that he only learned that his lines were dubbed when he attended the premiere, and he was so outraged at the slight that he left with the sort of anger that made him a natural to play Vigo in the first place.

So, who's doing the talking? That's Max von Sydow, the absolute legend from movies like "Flash Gordon," "Conan the Barbarian," "Dune," and "The Exorcist." Von Sydow's dubbing of Vigo's voice was actually uncredited, and it's unclear exactly why. He'd already had a wildly successful career in the prior decades, and it would have lent a nice gravitas to the series. Still, when he reprised his role for the "Ghostbusters" video game in 2009, that did get him an official credit. When he died in 2020, he was widely lauded as one of the best actors of his era. He was 90 years old at the time of his death, and no cause was given.

Michael K. Williams

Michael K. Williams may have been better known for "The Wire," "Lovecraft Country," and "12 Years a Slave," but he also played Agent Hawkins in 2016's "Ghostbusters." A wildly prolific and versatile actor, he had more than 100 credits to his name when it was announced that he had died at the age of 54. His death was immediately reported as being a suspected drug overdose. 

Williams was always candid about his experiences with addiction, telling Men's Health in 2020 that his initial foray into drug use was the result of "pain. In a word, a lot of pain. ... It wasn't an easy childhood, being sensitive, vulnerable. ... I was 17. I was lost. ... Drugs were there." His death would ultimately be ascribed to fentanyl-laced heroin, and in 2023, the New York City dealer who had been convicted of selling him the drugs was handed a 10-year jail sentence. 

Williams was also honest about the toll that acting took, saying that "Lovecraft Country" in particular "woke up a lot of demons. A lot. It cut me really close to the bone." Working on "Ghostbusters," it seems, was a chance to step away from that and do something fun. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Williams said that although he had nothing but respect for his human costars, it wasn't the high point. "I got to work with Slimer, dude. Like, Slimer! I'm in a scene with Slimer! I'm a huge 'Ghostbusters' fan and it was a dream come true."

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