Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dan Aykroyd and more stars mourn Canadian film legend Ivan Reitman

Ivan Reitman, the influential Canadian filmmaker and director of films such as Ghostbusters, passed away at age 75 on Feb. 12.

The man who got his start at Toronto's City TV later went on to help further the careers of plenty of celebrities such as Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Rick Moranis and even Arnold Schwarzenegger. Many of them took to social media to pay tribute to the legend and remember what he'd given them and the world as news of his death was announced over the weekend.

"Our family is grieving the unexpected loss of a husband, father and grandfather who taught us to always seek the magic in life," Jason, Caroline and Catherine Reitman, Ivan's children, said in a statement.

"We take comfort that his work as a filmmaker brought laughter and happiness to countless others around the world. While we mourn privately, we hope those who knew him through his films will remember him always."

Jason also morned his father on social media, tweeting that he had lost his "hero" as he shared a photo of him with his dad.

"All I want is the chance to tell my father one more story," he wrote. "He came from a family of survivors and turned his legacy into laughter.

"Thank you for the kind messages. Enjoy his movies and remember his storytelling gifts. Nothing would make him happier."Born in Komárno, Czechoslovakia (now part of Slovakia) in 1946, Ivan arrived in Canada as a refugee with his parents when he was four years old. His mother, Klara, survived Auschwitz and his father, Ladislav, was a resistance fighter.

Ivan had affinity for the arts from an early age, receiving a Bachelor of Music from Hamilton's McMaster University in 1969, where he also worked on film production. After his short stint at City TV, he moved into film work, producing Canadian director David Cronenberg's Shivers and Rabid in the mid-1970s.

But it was in comedy, family and children's films where he found his place to shine and had breakout successes, first with producing Animal House and later with directing the Ghostbusters films in the 1980s. Those who came of age in that decade and the 1990s know his work well – he directed Kindergarten Cop, produced Beethoven and directed and produced the Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring Junior. They're among the most famous works from his oeuvre during this period.

His success continued well into the 2000s, with production work on Old School, EuroTrip, I Love You, Man and the film adaptation of the Trailer Park Boys series.


Bil Murray, Harold Ramis and Dan Ackroyd on the set of Ghostbusters. Photo: © Columbia Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

"Feeling heartbreak today for Geneviève, Catherine, Caroline, Jason and family," Canadian comedic legend Dan Aykroyd, who wrote the Ghostbusters movies and played Dr. Raymond Stanz in them, told Deadline in a very heartfelt statement in which he mentioned Ivan's wife and children. "The loss of my friend, collaborator, champion and one of the last great creative talents of the BIG SCREEN ERA crumples me. Now on Thursdays who am I gonna call?"

"Thanks for everything, Ivan," Arnold tweeted as he shared photos of the two together, along with a lengthy statement in which he said he was "devastated" and called Ivan "bigger than life."

"If you knew him, Ivan had a way of making himself a part of your story," Arnold wrote, "and he certainly wrote a chunk of mine.

"I'll always be grateful that he took a chance on this Austrian action-hero in a comedy during a time when the studios just wanted me to focus on finding new ways to kill bad guys, blow things up and show off some muscles.

Arnold starred with Danny DeVito and Emma Thompson in Junior in 1994. Photo: Buena Vista/Getty Images
Arnold starred with Danny DeVito and Emma Thompson in Junior in 1994. Photo: Buena Vista/Getty Images

Arnold starred with Danny DeVito and Emma Thompson in Junior in 1994. Photo: © Buena Vista/Getty Images

"I knew I could make it in comedy, but I needed someone else to know it to make it a reality. That's why Ivan was a great director and friend: he could see something in you that other people didn't, and he cold help you show the rest of the world."

Mindy Kaling, who starred in No Strings Attached, which Ivan directed, called him "kind."

"Ivan Reitman was old school in the best way, and kind," she tweeted. "I loved working with him. It's sad he's gone, it makes me feel older and like my childhood movies are more faraway than ever. RIP."

Ernie Hudson, who played Winston Zeddemore in the Ghostbusters movies, joined Dan in expressing his heartbreak at Ivan's loss.

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of Ivan Reitman," Ernie wrote on Instagram as he shared a photo of Ivan and his son Jason. "Truly a great man and filmmaker who I had honour and privilege of knowing and working with. Deepest condolences to Jason and the entire family."

Carrie Coon, who worked with Ivan and Jason on Ghostbusters: Afterlife, also sent Jason condolences.

"Working with Ivan was an honour and a pleasure and I'm so grateful that I was invited into the universe he helped to build, one that continues to resonate with fans the world over," she said, sharing a photo from the set.

Paul Feig, who worked on the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot and Ghostbusters: Afterlife, said he was in "absolute shock" over Ivan's death.

"I had the honour of working so closely with Ivan and it was always such a learning experience, he tweeted. "He directed some of my favourite comedies of all time. All of us in comedy owe him so very much."

Thank you for everything you gave the world, Ivan. May your memory always be for a blessing.