Legendary film critic Roger Ebert has passed away of complications from cancer. He was 70 years old.
One of the only famous film critics to audiences (most likely due to his TV shows and his "thumbs up, thumbs down" rating technique), Ebert was also the first film critic to receive a Pulitzer Prize. Since 2002, Ebert has been battling thyroid cancer, leaving him with a chin prosthetic and speaking with a voice machine.
He was a friend to filmmakers, helping boost the careers of many, especially smaller films and filmmakers. And, with even the films he found sub-par, he had a clever way of shooting them down while still using a polite, educated voice.
Ebert was born in Urbana, IL and began writing as a sports journalist. He worked as the editor of the school paper while in college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. There he published his first film reviews, for La Dolce Vita and Bonnie and Clyde.
As the film critic for the Chicago-Sun Times (which he joined in 1967), Ebert critiqued films up until his last few days. He even wrote a special blog post for the Times yesterday expressing his declining health and his intentions to continue working, just on a smaller scale. While working at the paper, Ebert began broadcasting film reviews on the radio with a popular program called "Sneak Previews".
In 1975, Ebert, with his colleague Gene Siskel, launched "Sneak Previews" as a television series, the first TV show to air film reviews.
In 1982, the duo changed the format of the show and re-launched it as "At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert", which was again changed to the famous "Siskel & Ebert & the Movies" in 1986.
When Siskel died in 1999, Ebert continued with the program, calling it "Roger Ebert & the Movies". The show has continued with many different hosts, including Richard Roeper, A.O. Scott, and other famous film critics, assisting once Ebert's health declined.
His time as a film critic has seen him successfully cross over many formats, including newspaper, radio, television, books, and Internet. He's also hosted a popular film festival every year since 1999 called "Ebertfest".
Ebert leaves behind his wife of 21 years, Chaz Hammelsmith, and an incredible legacy.