Film critic Roger Ebert, 70, passed away Thursday in Chicago after battling cancer since 2002.
Ebert reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years. In his obituary, the paper wrote that he was “without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic.”
He was also a beloved fixture on television for 31 years: In 1975 Coming Soon to a Theater Near You with Chicago Tribune movie critic Gene Siskel launched on WTTW-Channel 11. Three years later the show moved to PBS and was retitled Sneak Previews. “The duo was on their way to becoming a fixture in American culture,” said the Sun-Times.
The paper noted that Ebert was considered a workhorse, sometime reviewing as many as 285 movies a year. He was also the author of 17 books, including three on The Great Movies, and two on films he hated, not to mention quite tech-savvy: his website has millions of fans and over 840,000 people follow him on Twitter.
- Here’s Jaime J. Weinman on why everyone who truly loves movies loves Ebert
- And here’s video of our film critic explaining why Ebert was number one in the business
In 2002, Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. In 2006 his lower jaw was removed during treatments, which left him unable to talk or eat.
On Tuesday, he wrote on his blog that he was receiving radiation treatment and that, in addition to writing about movies, he might also write about health: “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.”
“He was a renaissance man whose genius was based on film but by no means limited to it,” wrote the Sun-Times, “and who had extraordinary impact on his profession and the world around him.”
He is survived by his wife, a step-daughter and two step-grandchildren.