Legendary Chicago Film Critic Roger Ebert Dies at Age 70
“I know [my death] is coming, and I do not fear it,
Because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear.
I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path.
I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state.
What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter.
You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip.
I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.”
–Roger Ebert, 2010
Roger Ebert, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and who was without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic, died Thursday in Chicago at the age of 70.
On Tuesday, Ebert blogged that he had suffered a recurrence of cancer following a hip fracture suffered in December and would be taking “a leave of presence.” In the blog essay, marking his 46th anniversary of becoming the Sun-Times film critic, Ebert wrote “I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers hand-picked and greatly admired by me.” “We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away,” said his wife, Chaz Ebert. “No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.”
Ebert had been in poor health over the past decade, battling cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland. He first had surgery to remove a malignant tumor on his thyroid in 2002, and three subsequent surgeries on his salivary gland, all the while refusing to cut back on his TV show or his lifelong pride and joy, his job at the Sun-Times. He lost part of his lower jaw in 2006, and with it the ability to speak or eat, a calamity that would have driven other men from the public eye. But Ebert refused to hide, instead forging what became a new chapter in his career, an extraordinary chronicle of his devastating illness that won him a new generation of admirers. “No point in denying it,” he wrote, analyzing his medical struggles with characteristic courage, candor and wit, a view that was never tinged with bitterness or self-pity.
“My newspaper job,” he said in 2005, “is my identity.” But as always with Roger Ebert, that was being too modest. He was a renaissance man whose genius was based on film but by no means limited to it, a great soul who had extraordinary impact on his profession and the world around him.
“Kindness covers all of my political beliefs,” he wrote, at the end of his memoir, Life Itself. “No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”
Read more about the life of Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times here.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper: Roger Ebert’s Influence and Legacy
When film critic Roger Ebert lost his lower jaw to cancer, he lost the ability to eat and speak. But he did not lose his voice. In a moving talk from TED2011, Ebert and his wife, Chaz, with friends Dean Ornish and John Hunter, came together to tell his remarkable story.
Roger Ebert: Remaking My Voice
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