The Chicago Sun-Times reports that movie critic Roger Ebert has died at age 70. Ebert reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on television for 31 years. He lost his lower jaw in a fight with cancer but recovered and returned to reviewing movies. He just days ago announced that he would be taking a leave to fight the cancer that had returned. 


Most of us know Roger Ebert from his days hosting the classic series ‘Siskel & Ebert’ where the “thumbs up/thumbs down” gimmick changed the way we thought about, and processed, film criticism. He and Gene Siskel launched the show (then titled ‘Sneak Previews’) in 1975 and in 1982 went nationwide with ‘At the Movies With Siskel & Ebert.’ In addition to his work as a television personality, he was first and foremost a writer; a Pulitzer Prize winner at the Chicago Sun-Times, his longtime home, who announced the news of his passing this afternoon.

On Tuesday, April 2nd, he announced on his web site that he would be taking a leave of absence saying:

The immediate reason for my “leave of presence” is my health. The “painful fracture” that made it difficult for me to walk has recently been revealed to be a cancer. It is being treated with radiation, which has made it impossible for me to attend as many movies as I used to. I have been watching more of them on screener copies that the studios have been kind enough to send to me. My friend and colleague Richard Roeper and other critics have stepped up and kept the newspaper and website current with reviews of all the major releases. So we have and will continue to go on.

At this point in my life, in addition to writing about movies, I may write about what it’s like to cope with health challenges and the limitations they can force upon you. It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital. So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness.

In 2002, Ebert was first diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer and would undergo surgery that would alter his voice, though he continued to work on his show with Richard Roeper. In 2006, his cancer returned and doctors were forced to remove a part of his jaw and perform a tracheotomy that would prevent him from speaking, eating or drinking. As a result he was forced to permanently step down as host of ‘At the Movies’ (the show would continue without him, but was never quite the same and was eventually canceled).

Ebert was 70 years old and leaves behind his wife, Chaz.

After the Aurora shootings, Ebert wrote a reflection and his thoughts on the tragedy which, in our opinion, one of his best pieces ever.

We leave you with Ebert’s last written words, the last sentence in the article announcing his leave of absence:

“I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I’ll see you at the movies.”