Hudson Valley Ghostbusters

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The Real Winston Zeddemore

Winston Zeddemore, the "everyman" of the Ghostbusters. Wildly underdeveloped as a character in the movies, he almost feels like nothing more than an afterthought by the studio to diversify an otherwise all-white cast. But to the dedicated fans like us that know the full story, Winston is the most interesting character by far, both in the fictional world of Ghostbusters and here in the real world. His greatest achievements and heroic duties have always been just out of frame, leaving many people to forget there even was a fourth Ghostbuster.

Winston Zeddemore was originally written for Eddie Murphy, who was going to be one of the three Ghostbusters alongside Blues Brothers turned ghost hunters Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. Unfortunately, Murphy was busy shooting another movie, Beverly Hills Cop, so the character had to be reworked. In the original drafts of the script, Winston Zeddemore was a trained US Marine who had attended Air Force Command ECM school, had a black belt in karate, and was a talented small arms expert. Thankfully, even though his backstory was dropped, he was still able to deliver some of the most memorable quotes in the movie, my personal favorite being, "If there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say." The character was later fully explored in the television show, The Real Ghostbusters, which ran from 1986 until 1991. Even though Winston, now voiced by Arsenio Hall, and later, Buster Jones, was the only character without a doctorate, he was just as smart as his cohort. Most times, Winston would come up with the bright idea to get the boys in gray out of whatever situation they'd find themselves in. He was a vital member of the team, as he deserved to be.

As I mentioned, the character has an interesting history in the real world. In the later seasons of the cartoon, where producers of the show, DIC, were pressured by the network to make changes to their already successful show in order to please the target demographic. These changes were overseen by a consulting firm called Q5, who made it clear that Winston was a pointless character. They believed that each of the Ghostbusters represented a part of the body, apart from being the only African American member of the team. He would be referred to as "the driver," which would be his only purpose. Gone were the days of Winston's competence, the self-motivated and witty mechanic was but a shell of what he was written to be. Thankfully, fans have pieced together the real Winston over the last 4 decades to give the character justice, and unknowingly made Winston one of the most interesting and well-rounded characters that's ever been overlooked.