We are extremely saddened to have to report that legendary film critic Roger Ebert has passed away from cancer at the age of 70.
Ebert had been fighting cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland since 2002, and that battle cost him his lower jaw in 2006. In recent television appearances he was forced to speak with a voice machine and just yesterday he announced that he was going to be significantly lightening his review load.
Ebert was known for his reviews in The Chicago Sun-Times, where he had been the film critic since 1967, and his television show which went through an array of titles including At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, Siskel & Ebert & the Movies, then, after the death of Siskel in 1999, Roger Ebert & the Movies, At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper, and Ebert & Roeper. At the height of its popularity, Ebert & Roper could be seen on 200 stations.
He will perhaps be remembered most for his iconic thumbs-up or thumbs-down movie review system as it seems almost any film worth seeing was emblazoned with “Two Thumbs Up” at the top of its promotion.
Ebert was a champion of excellence in film, striving to praise the best of even little-known films and attack the mediocrity which sometimes saturates the industry. He was the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize, which he did in 1975, and his name was added to the Hollywood walk of fame in 2005.
He reviewed an astonishing number of films, at times as many as 285 in one year, and even scheduled his surgeries around important films’ release dates once he became sick.
Growing up outside Chicago, the first quality film criticism I was exposed to was that of Ebert’s. He’s part of the reason I desired at a young age to write about film, and to simply call him an inspiration is an understatement.
Perhaps the most fitting way to remember Ebert is through his own words, which can be found toward the end of his book Life Itself: A Memoir.
“‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”
Source: Chicago Sun-Times