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. RIP

    Definitely my intorduction to movie criticism.


  2. Wow, RIP Mr. Ebert. A great critic, possibly my favorite. I’m sad I’ll no longer get to read his reviews.

  3. 2 big thumbs down to cancer

    May you rest in peace and thank you for making discover the wonderful world of movies…

    the Orson Wells, Ozu, kieslowski, bergman, the jodorowski, and most important thank you for making me discover LEOLO, my favorite movie of all time

    I was an angry lost man before i saw this movie. this movie was great therapy for me and saved my life


  4. R.I.P Mr Ebert. Your reviews and expertise on films will be missed.

  5. We didn’t always agree, Mr. Ebert, but I always respected your opinion. May God rest your soul.

  6. so saddened by this news.. he made me learn so much about movies. I was already shocked by the news of his cancer returning, but this felt like a punch in the chest
    rip Ebert! :((((

    • Mr. Ebert, I’ll miss your reviews and your good friend Gene Siskel’s as well. Now forever gone, I won’t get to hear the great insight you had or the level at which you were able to disect a movie and yet watch them as an enjoyalbe piece of art & entertainment as well. You were my favorite critic – well balanced and not hung up on making a name for yourself. It just seem to happen naturally. Best regards to your family.

  7. He will be sorely missed…

  8. I’ll always remember Roger Ebert, I hope him and Gene Siskel rest in piece.

  9. Damn I always liked him.

  10. R.I.P. Mr. Ebert.

  11. RIP.
    wow. No words…

  12. A legend goes away…May you rest in peace, mr. Ebert, you will be missed.

  13. I remember watching them as a kid also. Definitely a big loss in the film critic world. RIP Mr. Ebert. We’ll see you at the movies again someday.

  14. Having grown up in the UK where his reviews weren’t available (and most people have never heard of him, having gotten our movie reviews from Barry Norman for decades followed by Jonathan Ross and now Claudia Winkleman on the Film *insert year* show), I don’t have the same attachment to him and his work but it is a sad time, not just for his friends and family but the industry as a whole.

    The word “titan” is thrown around a lot but in Ebert’s case, it’s deserving.


  15. One of my idols…helped me learn so much about films and now the Sun Times won’t even let me onto many of his reviews like they’ve vanished???? Why wold you get rid of all those? To make room for some schmuck who can’t lift Ebert’s shoes? Ebert was the greatest of all time, a legend.

  16. A dark day in cinema :( you will be dearly missed, Roger

  17. Real tragedy, he was and will be the major inspiration for all of us. Rest in peace Mr Ebert

  18. Siskel and Ebert together again in heaven

  19. R.I.P. Mr Ebert
    You and Mr Siskel changed the way that I think about and watch movies, I will forever be grateful.

  20. RIP Mr. Ebert. I used to read your reviews and essays for hours at a time. You will be truly missed.

  21. I used to Love to hate some of Mr Eberts Reviews. Mr Ebert was a class act all the way. RIP. You will be missed. But never forgotten.

  22. A touching and heartfelt tribute, Sandy. Roger would be proud. And touched.
    A measure of a man is the influence he has on the lives of other men that follow.

    • Thanks Robert, glad to see your comments again. :-)

      • Very kind of you to say, Sandy. Thank you :)

  23. May he R.I.P

    I will always have him in my heart and his reviews as well.

  24. It was my weekly routine to watch Siskel & Ebert at the movies. Two of the greatest film critics are now gone. RIP Roger Ebert. Now you can join the stars in the sky!!!

  25. My deepest condolences to his friends and family. My thanks for your dedicated reviews, Mr. Ebert. Have a peaceful rest…

  26. Before I found ScreenRant, It was Roger Ebert’s reviews that I read to gain some insight in the films that were in cinema at the moment or films of the past. When I first started becoming interested in how people -audience and critics alike- received a film and how I began forming my own thoughts of film as an art form, I began with Ebert. I read from his web site tied with the Chicago Sun Times website and was always interested in his opinion. I did not always agree, but then again do people ever agree 100 percent – 100 percent of the time? No. But when I did agree, I really did. He was able to articulate what I was feeling even if I could not find the words on my own. He was the first introduction into film criticism and to this day beside a few exception is one of the very critics outside of ScreenRant that I know and have read on.

    It is a shame, cancer- the effects it does to a person. To families. To the young and to the old. But the take home message is not how cancer limited this human being but rather how Roger Ebert rose above the pain and hurt through the love of films, as indicated by his excerpt in the article above. It was the love he had for films, especially a good one, that allowed him to escape even temporarily from the constant pain to another world. That is the power of films, the power of Cinema. It may be a business but it is more importantly an art. An escapism. Entertainment. The means to be transported to another world, recognizable or fantasy, comedic or dramatic, cathartic or a glimpse to the nature of our own reality. There may different taste in what defines a good film these days, but there is no denying the fundamental power of films when done right. Artistic, successful, collaboration of many individuals.

    I do not pretend to know his thoughts in his final hours, but I am sure Ebert found comfort with his loved ones and the medium that afforded him not only an occupation, but a calling. Film brought him great feelings and memories. At the movies.

    R.I.P Roger Ebert. Congratulations on achieving your calling in the realm of Cinema and thank you for sharing your love with others whether it be through your blog, reviews, TV show, or books. Film may never be the same without your review to look forward to prior or after a screening.

  27. Terrible news…
    Even before I knew what a film critic was or did I knew the name Roger Ebert.
    Even as a kid I knew if my parents were talking about a movie and it received 2 thumbs up they were referencing Siskel & Ebert and those 2 thumbs up meant something. It was just part of the movie culture and what we now call pop culture. Everybody knew who and what you were talking about.
    Cheers, Mr. Ebert!!!
    You will be missed by your family, friends & fans.

  28. I still remember those sundays morning waiting in front of the TV eager to watch “Ebert and Roeper”. I still remember that day when he gave “Dogville” 2 thumbs down and I got so mad at him for doing that to one of my favorite movies. He is the reason why I got in the movies world so deeply, and why I find myself being an amateur critic who gets a call or a message every week from my friends before they go to the movies just to ask me if a film is worth watching or not, always thinking: “I wonder what Roger wrote about it” before entering his blog and reading his critics. He will be forever in our minds and stands as an true icon for us movie lovers. RIP Roger, you were a true fighter and a legend.

  29. Ebertfest is going to feel very diffrent this year, probably will bring more people out which he would have loved. looking forward to going to it.