Without A Net

Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

King of the film critics Roger Ebert dies (videos, photos)

57798 full

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that film critic Roger Ebert has died. He was 70. The paper announced the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic died Thursday.

Ebert was known for his thumbs-up, thumbs-down TV reviews that influenced moviegoers across the nation, made famous with his late partner Gene Siskel on "At The Movies." (You can see an archive of many episodes of "At the Movies" at this link.)

On Wednesday, Ebert announced on his blog that he was undergoing radiation treatment after a recurrence of cancer.

Ebert refused to let his battles with cancer keep him down, becoming hugely prolific online with reviews, blog posts and an active social media presence with more than 800,000 followers on Twitter alone.

Ebert published a post Tuesday titled “A Leave of Presence,” the link to which was also his last tweet. He noted that he wrote more movie reviews last year than he had in his entire career, a total of 306, plus one to two blog posts per week. He said that he planned to slow down, taking what he called “a leave of presence,” where he’d still review movies he wanted to but leave the rest to a team of handpicked writers.

“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,” Ebert wrote.

He also announced in that post that he was relaunching his website on April 9 and had more projects to roll out in the coming year, including planning a Kickstarter to bring back some sort of review show and considering a movie video game or mobile app.

Ebert was also working with filmmaker Steve James on a biodoc that Martin Scorsese was also involved in making about Ebert’s life. He also wanted to write more reviews of classic movies for his “Great Movies” collection, possibly leading to a fourth "Great Movies" book.

Ebert closed with the last line of his published in his lifetime: "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 continued in recent years to hold his annual film festival, which is scheduled for later this month at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign for April 17–21. There’s no word on how his death will affect the festival.

Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002 and later had surgery for cancer of the salivary gland. He lost his chin and his ability to speak. But he later resumed writing full-time and eventually even returned to television.

Ebert started as a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967. In 1975 he became the first movie reviewer to get the Pulitzer Prize for criticism.

Ebert also left a mark in other ways, including writing books, writing the screenplay for "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" and recording DVD commentaries — which he recorded for free to avoid conflicts of interest.

Ebert wrote an essay detailing his own feelings on death less than two years ago for Salon.

"I have no desire to live forever. The concept frightens me. I am 69, have had cancer, will die sooner than most of those reading this," Ebert wrote.

Ebert talked about his radically changed appearance in an interview with NPR, speaking through a computer voice.

"I was advised not to be photographed looking like this. Well, it's how I look, and there's nothing I can do about it. We spend too much time as a society denying illness. It's a fact of life."

Ebert also published a memoir, "Life Itself," last fall.


A classic Siskel and Ebert review, this one for "The Shawshank Redemption":

Siskel and Ebert letting loose on how horrible the movie "North" was:

A 1996 appearance by Ebert on "Late Nite with Conan O'Brien."

A 1997 interview with Ebert sharing his thoughts on his life as a film critic:

Siskel and Ebert on "Back to the Future":

Ebert provides his own voice to sing on an episode of Jon Lovitz's "The Critic":

blog comments powered by Disqus

Enjoy reading Without A Net? You might like KPCC’s other blogs.

What's popular now on KPCC