Born in Czechoslovakia, producer/director Ivan Reitman was raised in Canada by his concentration camp-survivor parents. After majoring in music at McMasters University, Reitman got his first taste of the line of work that was to bring him fame and fortune when he attended summer classes at the National Film Board. Here he directed his first short subjects, one of which received mainstream distribution. Encouraged by the Film Board to follow his own creative muse, Reitman was irresistibly attracted to "dangerous," cutting-edge material. His first feature-length directorial project, a 1970 adaptation of the notorious sub rosa Victorian sex novel My Secret Life, nearly landed him in jail. He went on to direct, produce, edit, and score the mildly exploitive Foxy Lady (1971), then directed and produced the horror semi-spoof Cannibal Girls (1973); the latter project represented his first cinematic contact with the famed Second City comedy troupe. In between handling the producing chores on several early David Cronenberg movie projects, Reitman produced Doug Henning's 1974 Broadway musical The Magic Show, then renewed his acquaintance with the Second City folk by producing The National Lampoon Show (1975). He helped elevate John Belushi to film stardom with his spectacularly successful 1978 production National Lampoon's Animal House, then did the same for Bill Murray in his 1979 directorial effort Meatballs, which ended up the biggest-grossing Canadian film of the year. After flirting with the Cinema of the Fantastic in his productions Heavy Metal (1981) and Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), Reitman deftly combined fantasy and comedy with his direction of the 1984 cash cow Ghostbusters (once more populated with Second City stalwarts, notably Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Rick Moranis, and Harold Ramis). Though he has earned his comic stripes as a director, Reitman continues to produce and executive produce other director's projects, notably the runaway hit Beethoven (1991). While he seems to have an unerring Midas touch, not every Reitman project has turned to box-office gold: After helping to give Arnold Schwarzenegger a lighter, more amusing image in Kindergarten Cop (1990), he failed to do same with Sylvester Stallone in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1991); nor was the Schwarzenegger-Danny De Vito vehicle Junior (1994) able to match the success of the stars' earlier pairing in Reitman's Twins (1988). After a few ups and downs in the early '90s, Reitman was way back up with Dave (1993), an uncharacteristically low-key political satire. In the summer of 2001, the man who brought fans Ghostbusters was back with another summer sci-fi comedy extravaganza, Evolution. With the exception of the television comedy pilot Cooking Lessons, Reitman would mainly stick to producing in the early years of the new millennium, though after playing a kew role in bringing such comedy hits as Old School and Road Trip to the screen, it was finally time to step back into the director's chair for the 2006 comedy My Super Ex-Girlfriend. A fun-filled fantasy comedy detailing the revenge of a needy superhero against the man who dumped her, My Super Ex-Girlfriend starred Uma Thurman as the eponymous dumpee, and Luke Wilson as the man who had to let her go.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Both of his parents were Holocaust survivors; his mother spent time in Auschwitz and his father was part of the underground resistance.
- Family emigrated to Canada in 1950.
- Was nearly jailed for producing a soft-core porn film, The Columbus of Sex, in 1969.
- Helped fund the Bell Lightbox (headquarters to the Toronto International Film Festival) in Toronto, which stands on the plot of land that was once occupied by his father's car wash. A nearby intersection is named Reitman Square, in honor of his parents.
- Founder of The Montecito Picture Company.
- Named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2009.
- Awarded a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in 2011.