Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert died today following a long battle with cancer of the thyroid and salivary gland. He was 70 years old. Earlier this week, Ebert wrote on his blog that his cancer had returned, saying, “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. 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 became a household name when he began hosting the TV show Siskel and Ebert At the Movies, starring Chicago Tribune movie reviewer Gene Siskel and himself as they discussed current movies, giving the releases either two thumbs up or two thumbs down. When Siskel died of a brain tumor in 1999, Ebert continued the show for several years with critic Richard Roeper. After being diagnosed with cancer in 2002, Ebert had surgery to remove his lower jaw in 2004 but lost his ability to speak and eat. However, he continued to be a prolific movie reviewer for the Sun-Times despite his illness. His annual film festival, Ebertfest, will continue at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, opening on April 17 this year. Ebert is survived by his wife and step-daughter, as well as two step-grandchildren.