Breaking Film News: Film Critic Roger Ebert Dies at 70

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CHICAGO – The Chicago Sun-Times has reported that Roger Ebert, beloved and influential film critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, has died today at age 70, of complications due to cancer. Ebert is an icon of film criticism, having won the Pulitzer Prize and creating the popularity of television film critique via the many incarnations of his shows “Sneak Previews” and “At the Movies.”

Ebert was born in Urbana, Illinois, to Walter H. and Annabelle Ebert in 1942. He moved to Chicago in 1966, after graduating from the University of Illnois at Urbana-Champaign. Intending to do graduate work at the University of Chicago, he also took a job at the Chicago Sun-Times, and was named their film critic in 1967.

Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert, Film Critic, 1942-2013.
Photo credit: Chicago Sun-Times

After taking a year off from his Sun-Times job in 1969 to write the screenplay for Russ Meyer’s cult classic “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,” Ebert won the Pulitzer Prize for Film Criticism in 1975. That was the same year he teamed up with Chicago Tribune Film Critic Gene Siskel for the TV film criticism show “Sneak Previews.” Siskel and Ebert went to commercial television and syndicated their show “At the Movies” in 1982, and continued variations on that show until 1999, when Siskel passed away. The show is characterized by the famous “thumbs-up, thumbs down” method of determination for a film, and Siskel and Ebert even put a trademark on it. He continued the show with co-host Richard Roeper in 2000, leaving it in 2006 due to cancer complications.

Ebert’s cancer struggle was well documented, as he lost his lower jaw and ability to speak because of the disease in his thyroid. He continued virtually uninterrupted with his film criticism through his illness, including talking through a computer speaking program on his TV show reincarnation on PBS. He succumbed to that disease today, April 4th. He is survived by his formidable wife and life partner Chaz Ebert. Funeral arrangements are pending. will continue coverage of this breaking story, including perspectives from Brian Tallerico, Matt Fagerholm and Patrick McDonald.

Roger Ebert, 1942-2013 senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2013 Patrick McDonald,

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