Roger Ebert,popular film critic and television co-host who along with his fellow reviewer and sometime-sparring partner Gene Siskel could lift or sink the fortunes of a movie with their trademark thumbs up or thumbs down,died on Thursday in Chicago. He was 70.
His death was announced by The Chicago Sun Times,where he had worked for more than 40 years. No cause was specified,but he had suffered from cancer and related health problems since 2002.
It would not be a stretch to say Ebert was the best-known film reviewer of his generation,and one of the most trusted. The force and grace of his opinions propelled film criticism into the mainstream of American culture.
President Obama reacted to his death with a statement that said,in part: For a generation of Americans.. Roger was the movies. When he didnt like a film,he was honest; when he did,he was effusive.
Eberts struggle with cancer gave him an altogether different public image as someone who refused to surrender to illness. Though he had operations for cancer of the thyroid,salivary glands and chin,lost his ability to eat,drink and speak (a prosthesis partly obscured the loss of much of his jaw,and he was fed through a tube for years) and became a gaunter version of his once-portly self,he continued to write reviews and commentary and published a cookbook on meals that could be made with a rice cooker.
In recent years,Ebert became a prolific presence on Facebook and Twitter,on which he had more than 800,000 followers,and was a blogger.
Ebert liked to say his approach dryly witty,occasionally sarcastic,sometimes quirky in his opinions reflected the working newspaper reporter he had been. His tastes ran from the classics to boldly independent cinema to cartoons,and his put-downs could be withering.
His thumbs-up-or-down approach drew scorn from some critics,who said it trivialized film criticism.
In 1975,he became the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize,for his Sun Times reviews.