Roger Ebert, the Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic whose gladiatorial “thumbs up, thumbs down” assessments turned film reviewing into a television sport and whose passion for independent film helped introduce a new generation of filmmakers to moviegoers, has died. He was 70.
Ebert, who had battled cancer in recent years, died Thursday in Chicago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. He had undergone several surgeries to remove cancerous tumors from his thyroid and salivary glands, ultimately losing his jaw to the disease, and was hospitalized in December for a broken leg.
While his cancer diagnosis and the resulting treatments forced him to pull back from criticism in 2006, he remained active as a writer and maintained a powerful presence on social media sites that included his award-winning blog, Roger Ebert’s Journal.
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Earlier this week he had announced that he would be stepping back from writing reviews.
In May 2008, he had returned to writing movie reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times but essentially said goodbye to the TV show that made him famous. Cancer had robbed him of his voice, and Ebert refused to face another surgery that could restore it.
As the longtime and prolific critic for the Sun-Times, he wrote reviews while co-hosting -- originally with Gene Siskel of the rival Chicago Tribune -- a popular nationally syndicated TV show that, in the 1980s, was known as “At the Movies.”
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Ebert was the first movie critic to win journalism's most prestigious award, collecting his Pulitzer in 1975, but he had the greatest impact through his TV forum, which began that same year on Chicago public television.
A complete obituary will follow at latimes.com/obits.
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