Roger Ebert Passes Away at Age 70

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 24th, 2014 at 12:23 pm,

roger ebert obituary Roger Ebert Passes Away at Age 70

That iconic and most famous of movie critic personalities, Roger Ebert, has passed away at the age of 70, following a recurrence of the cancer which had previously robbed him of a voice and jaw. We regret to make this announcement just one day after Ebert marked his 46th anniversary of working as a professional film reviewer and journalist, having begun his legendary run with the Chicago Sun-Times back in 1967.

My own personal introduction to the world of film criticism, analysis and journalism came through Ebert, back in the mid-1990s when I was just a kid. I recall visiting my local Barnes & Noble bookstore in Medford, Oregon on a frequent basis, where I could read Ebert’s “One-Minute Reviews” free of charge. Similarly, like millions of other people, I would tune in to watch Siskel & Ebert & the Movies whenever it was possible, to see what those legendary sharp-witted gentlemen had to say about the latest film releases, be it Space Jam or Good Will Hunting.

Of course, little did I know back then that Ebert had been working at the top of his field for around thirty years by that point. He’d already had reviews published in the Reader’s Digest, co-written the 1970 cult classic film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, co-hosted Sneak Previews with Gene Siskel from 1975-1982 – followed by At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert for the next four years – and then & the Movies beginning in 1986.

roger ebert obit gene siskel 570x289 Roger Ebert Passes Away at Age 70

Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert

Ebert, born Roger Joseph Ebert in Urbana, Illinois on June 18th, 1942, wrote more than 15 books over the course of his career, including the annual Roger Ebert’s Movie Yearbook installments beginning in 1999 (except for in 2008). He won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1975 – becoming the first movie reviewer to do so – and his television programs racked up numerous awards recognition over the years. He was also the first film critic to be awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, after years of his reviews being syndicated in newspapers around the United States (and even the world).

If that wasn’t impressive enough, the man kept his nose to the grindstone even after being diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer back in 2002. That disease would ravage him physically over the subsequent decade, yet Ebert continued to write passionately about the art of cinema until shortly before his death (you can read his final review for Terrence Malick’s To The Wonder).

He also kept an online journal for many years, with his final entry “A Leave of Presence” having been posted online just a couple days before his death. Here is a telling excerpt:

Thank you. Forty-six years ago on April 3, 1967, I became the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. Some of you have read my reviews and columns and even written to me since that time. Others were introduced to my film criticism through the television show, my books, the website, the film festival, or the Ebert Club and newsletter.  However you came to know me, I’m glad you did and thank you for being the best readers any film critic could ask for.

… 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.

… 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.

The Screen Rant staff would like to express their sincere condolences to the friends and family of Roger Ebert in this difficult time. I certainly owe a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid to the man, who can fairly be called one of my most important teachers – and the person who set me on the path to finding my true calling, many years before I had the slightest clue what that would be.

R.I.P. Roger Joseph Ebert: June 18th, 1942 – April 4th, 2013.

roger ebert obit Roger Ebert Passes Away at Age 70

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  1. R.I.P Mr. Ebert. My condolence to Mr. Ebert’s friends and family. I’ll certainly miss lingering at your website every other day, reading your insight into movies.

  2. Introduced me to film I watched Ebert and Roeper on Fox. I was young when I first saw it but something about it made me realize how special film were.
    R.I.P. A true luminary.

  3. I would always look for and trust Mr. Eberts reviews, if I was a film maker I would have looked forward to your review be it good or bad, Thumbs up to you Mr. Roger Ebert, R.I.P.

  4. Thumbs up to Roger Ebert, one of the greatest movie critic of all time. Rest In Peace.

  5. R.I.P. Roger Ebert a true American Movie genius

  6. That’s awful news. Very well-put and touching article.

  7. Excellent write-up Sandy. Though I myself didn’t go off to become a successful film critic, Ebert did inspire me to aspire to that post when I was younger. It feels as though I’ve lost a friend. I’ve been reading his reviews on every movie I’ve anticipated since I began anticipating movies. Whether we agreed or not, his opinion was always welcome (even when he was being surly or stubborn: see his articles on video games). Rest in peace Mr. Ebert.

    • I hope that last comment about video games didn’t come off as rude. I meant it as a good natured jab, as he even thought to bring it up in good fun in the final blog he wrote entitled “Leave of Presence”. I certainly appreciated his works beyond film as well, including his political commentary. He wrote from the heart, I loved his writings for that.

      • I was wondering if he would, or did, live long enough to reevaluate or reconsider any of his statements about video games not being art, or even capable of being art. Sounds like he didn’t, and I can forgive an old dog not learning any new tricks, but for a sharp mind like his I was hoping for an epiphany. It was he who said so wisely that the value of art was that it was “the best way to truly understand how a person who is different than you actually feels.”. In this spirit he also said “make a friend who is different than you.”. Great thoughts from a curious mind. I find his dismissal of games so contrary to his openmindedness that I held out hope for a change there. Many times he made a comment that I strongly disagreed with, trashed a movie I loved, and praised a movie I found unwatchable. He was never, for me, a reliable gauge of whether I would like a movie. On the oth hand, he was the ONLY reviewer I read regularly and knew by name, because he had good thoughts on such a regular basis. Even ifI disagreed, I expected a level of relevance and dissection from him that was almost always illuminating. So, like a movie that sometimes frustrated me but became a favorite nonetheless, at the end of the day I give Roger a big thumbs up. He lived a worthy life.

        As my best personal memory, I recall when he was on a talk show with Gene Siskel, and sort of stole the spot light with a bit of a rant about how his life was consumed by movies and he had no social life and he had no friends. It was rather startling, and made him seem like a tragically lonely figure. Moments later, after pondering his quasi-outburst, I believe he even interrupted the interview to say adamantly: “you know what, Gene? I’ve short-changes you. YOU are my friend, you have been my good friend, and for me to say otherwise is wrong. I apologize.”. I’m sure that quote wasn’t exact, but it was classy, and a sincere revelation. Maybe it was even a turning point. By the end of the show there were murmurs of it all being staged, and he shot them down. There was a happier grin on his face as hestood by Gene, posing as the great duo, with their thumbs out. He was in his place, and happy to be there, and I will never forget seeing that. He will be missed. Maybe they can write mention of him playfully into some artsy video game someday. Maybe one of us will work on it. Now who will I read?

  8. R.I.P. Roger Ebert, one of the best.

  9. R.I.P. Ebert. I may not have always agreed with him, but his articles were still must reads for his elegantly written thoughts.