Roger Ebert, the longtime film critic at the Chicago-Sun Times died today after a long battle with cancer. He was 70.
Ebert spent 46 years reviewing movies for the Sun-Times, and 31 years talking about them on TV. He was first diagnosed with a tumor on his thyroid gland in 2002, and underwent three surgeries on his salivary glands. Despite losing part of his lower jaw cancer in 2006, which made it impossible for Ebert to speak or eat, he continued to be as prolific as ever, filling his website with reviews and essays.
It was here, just this past Tuesday – a date that also marked his 46th anniversary of his hiring as the Sun-Times film critic – that Ebert announced he would be taking “a leave of presence” after his cancer had returned after suffering a hip fracture in December. “It means I am not going away,” he wrote. “My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me. What’s more, I’ll be able at last to do what I’ve always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review.”
Fittingly, he concluded the blog post: “So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I’ll see you at the movies.”
Ebert’s reviews were syndicated in newspapers across the country, while his show Coming Soon to a Theater Near You with fellow critic Gene Siskel (later famously known as At The Movies) helped him become a household name, to say nothing of with his patented “thumbs up, thumbs down” system. In 1975, Ebert became the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize, and his name was even added to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.