Ivan Reitman Biography

Producer, Director (1946–)
Ivan Reitman is a director and producer of film and stage. His box-office hits include Meatballs, Ghostbusters and Kindergarten Cop.


Born in Czechoslovakia in 1946, Ivan Reitman moved to Canada around age of 4. He attended McMaster University in Ontario, where he studied music. During college, Reitman began making films. His first feature film, Sex of Columbus (1969), got him arrested on obscenity charges. He made several more films in Canada, including Foxy Lady (1971) and Cannibal Girls, before making it in Hollywood. As a producer and director, Reitman made such box-office hits as National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), Meatballs (1979), Ghostbusters (1984) and Kindergarten Cop (1990). Still active as a director and producer, Reitman's more recent credits include My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006), Up in the Air (2009) and No Strings Attached (2011).

Early Life and Career

Successful director and producer Ivan Reitman was born on October 27, 1946, in Komarmo, Czechoslovakia. The son of an Auschwitz survivor, he fled Czechoslovakia with his family in 1951. The Reitmans settled in Canada. Ivan later attended McMaster University in Ontario, where he pursued a bachelor's degree in music. He discovered his passion for film one summer during his youth, while taking courses offered by the National Film Board. One of Reitman's short films from this period, Orientation, received some distribution in Canada.

After graduating from college in 1969, Reitman focus on filmmaking. His first film feature was the highly controversial Columbus of Sex, which is based on a racy Victorian novel called My Secret Life. The movie actually got Reitman in trouble with the law. According to some reports, he received a fine and probation for violating Canadian decency laws with the film.

Despite this obstacle, Reitman continued full steam ahead with his film career, producing and directing such Canadian films as Foxy Lady (1971) and Cannibal Girls (1973). Turning to the stage, Reitman also produced Doug Henning's magic show, Spellbound, around this time. The production was such a success that it moved to Broadway as The Magic Show, where it enjoyed a long run, from 1974 to '78.

King of Comedy

As a producer and director, Ivan Reitman teamed with three Second City (and later, Saturday Night Live) comedic legends: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. These collaborations, including 1978's groundbreaking National Lampoon's Animal House, 1979's Meatballs, 1981's Stripes and 1984's Ghostbusters, scored big at the box office. Ghostbusters proved to be such a hit that it held the record for highest grossing comedy in movie history until 1990, when it was surpassed by Home Alone. These films also drew on the considerable comedic writing and acting talents of another Reitman regular, Harold Ramis.

Despite his heavy film schedule, Reitman found time to return to Broadway. He directed and produced the 1983 musical Merlin, which earned him a Tony Award nomination. Reitman soon enjoyed another wave of box-office success with Arnold Schwarzenegger: He helped transform the actor from action hero to comedic star with such films as Twins (1988) and Kindergarten Cop (1990).

Other 1990s Reitman hits include the canine comedy Beethoven, Dave and Space Jam, starring Michael Jordan opposite Bugs Bunny. Additionally, the filmmaker produced the 1997 Howard Stern biopic Private Parts.

Recent Projects

In recent years, Reitman seems to have scaled back on the number of directorial projects he takes on. He has only worked on a handful of films since 2001, including My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006) with Uma Thurman and No Strings Attached (2011) with Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. More recently, he lent his directing talents to a sports drama entitled Draft Day (2014), which stars Jennifer Garner and Kevin Costner.

As a producer, Reitman worked with his son, Jason, on the critically acclaimed drama Up in the Air (2009). He later worked on the 2012 television biopic Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins. There has also been much talk and speculation about a third installment of the Ghostbusters being in the works.

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