Roger Ebert, perhaps the most well-known film critic of the past several decades, has died after a long battle with cancer, his longtime paper the Chicago Sun-Times has announced.
Only days ago, Ebert posted his last blog entry, annoucing “a leave of presence” and further plans for RogerEbert.com. “Thank you for going on this journey with me,” he wrote. “I’ll see you at the movies.”
Ebert reviewed films for 46 years in the Sun-Times and for 31 on TV. After losing part of his jaw in 2006 and being unable to speak, he turned to the internet. His Twitter account, @ebertchicago, was a must-follow for anyone interested in film.
Ebert, along with his colleague Gene Siskel, was the first film critic I ever knew, and perhaps the only one whose reviews I read consistently. Siskel & Ebert & the Movies, which aired Saturday mornings in Detroit, was a regular staple of my childhood.
And to bring it back to Star Wars… Only weeks ago, a 1983 video of Siskel and Ebert defending Return of the Jedi was making the rounds again. Of course, George Lucas has never been much for critics, and one of the monsters in 1988’s Willow was named “Eborsisk” for the pair. (They weren’t singled out: General Kael got his name from The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael)
Ebert was one of the greats: He could be funny and biting, but classy, plus a truly engaging writer. He will be missed.