ROGER EBERT dead at 70

A film criticism giant passes on

In terms of health he had no luck. Various forms of cancer had been gnawing away at his body for years and he had lost his jaw to a tumor. But as film critic, Roger Ebert, who passed away yesterday at 70, was an icon for a profession that’s often misunderstood, if not ignored. I often recoiled at discovering that a movie had been reduced to a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” but what’s there not to love about the charismatic Roger Ebert? He raised the game immensely, worked non-stop in getting filmmakers recognized through his writings and recently celebrated forty-six years of film criticism. Later, I understood the usefulness of Rotten Tomatoes and that Ebert’s “thumbs up thumbs-down” gimmick was a precursor to that.

Ebert distinguished himself in the only way possible when you’re a writer: he published books. There’s his “Great Movies” series, his “Four-star Reviews” and the book he wrote about Martin Scorsese. A long-time staff journalist to the Chicago Sun-Times he was the only film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize.

Here’s signing off with a moving note written by Chaz, Roger Ebert’s wife, which was published on Ebert’s blog:

“I am devastated by the loss of my love, Roger — my husband, my friend, my confidante and oh-so-brilliant partner of over 20 years. He fought a courageous fight. I’ve lost the love of my life and the world has lost a visionary and a creative and generous spirit who touched so many people all over the world. We had a lovely, lovely life together, more beautiful and epic than a movie. It had its highs and the lows, but was always experienced with good humor, grace and a deep abiding love for each other.”