Roger Ebert, Legendary Film Critic, Dead At 70
Roger Ebert, the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic who co-hosted TV’s Siskel and Ebert and its many iterations, died Thursday in Chicago after a lengthy battle with cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland. He was 70.
“There is a hole that can’t be filled. One of the greats has left us,” The Chicago Sun-Times, the publication at which he joined in 1967, tweeted Thursday afternoon.
At a time when movie criticism appeared to be waning, Ebert remained a fighting presence, one that had endured numerous changes in the industry and, later, multiple health scares.
After joining The Chicago Sun-Times in 1967, the Chicago-born Ebert would quickly go on to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, the first film critic to do so. But it was his professional, sometimes testy, relationship with Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel that would eventually make Ebert a household name.
The duo began co-hosting a weekly film review TV show titled Sneak Previews in 1975, which would eventually become the now-famous Siskel & Ebert, through Buena Vista Television, in 1986. It was through that program that the duo became synonymous with their “Two Thumbs Up” review approach.
Ebert remained with the program after Siskel died in 1999, before finally parting ways with Disney in 2008.
Off camera, Ebert was known for his poignant, thoughtful film reviews, all of which were guided by a voice that was as dead-on and funny as it was sharp and biting. (Read all of Ebert’s reviews on his website.)
News of Ebert’s death came only a day after he announced he would be taking a “leave of presence” from his post.
“The ‘painful fracture’ that made it difficult for me to walk has recently been revealed to be a cancer,” Ebert wrote. “It is being treated with radiation, which has made it impossible for me to attend as many movies as I used to.”
Ebert’s health woes date back to 2002. Complications from a 2006 surgery led to the loss of his jaw, as well as his ability to eat, drink and speak.
He is survived by his wife, Chaz, whom he married in 1992.
His favorite movie was Citizen Kane.
Update: His wife of 20 years released a statement to People on Thursday afternoon:
“We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away,” Chaz said.
“No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.”