Roger Ebert — whose At the Movies brought his legendary brand of film critique to viewers’ TV screens for over 30 years — died Thursday in Chicago after a lengthy battle with cancer.
On Tuesday, Ebert wrote an online column telling readers he was taking “a leave of presence” from his hectic schedule of writing some 300 reviews per year for the Chicago Sun-Times after learning that a “painful fracture” he suffered in December had turned out to be cancer. “I’ll be able at last to do what I’ve always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review,” he wrote with the optimism and frankness that was a hallmark of his fight with the disease.
Ebert worked as a critic at the Sun-Times for 46 years — starting on April 3, 1967 — and for the last 10, had waged a valiant fight against cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland.
He launched his TV career opposite Chicago Tribune movie critic Gene Siskel on a local show called Coming Soon to a Theater Near You; that morphed into a PBS series, Sneak Previews, and later into the syndicated At the Movies, where the duos “thumbs up/thumbs down” shorthand became part of the filmgoing lexicon.