Roger Ebert, possibly the world's most famous movie critic, died today at the age of 70 following an extended battle with cancer. Ebert spent his entire writing career at the Chicago Sun Times, where he began reviewing movies in 1967. One of his most famous early reviews was for George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, which was released in 1969 and which Mr. Ebert said caused him to feel "real terror" on a "Saturday afternoon." Ebert had also famously kept a "best of the year" list of films since 1967, which he occasionally made changes or revisions to in hindsight. For 23 years he also hosted several different television shows with another movie critic, Gene Siskel, who died in 1999 at the age of 53.
In 2002, Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, after which he underwent a series of treatments and surgeries, including one in 2006 which removed part of his jaw, which caused him to lose the ability to speak, eat, and drink. Eventually, Ebert began using a computerized voice system for communication. Ebert continued, with only short absences, to produce between 5 and 7 film reviews a week.
An Illinois native, Ebert graduated from the University of Illinois in 1964. He was the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism (in 1975), and was the author of 15 books. In 1969 he took a leave from the Chicago Sun Times in order to write the screenplay for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, which received an "X" rating and became a cult classic. Ebert more recently became known for his vibrant and outspoken presence on Twitter. Roger Ebert is survived by his wife, two step-children, and two step-grandchildren.
Ebert's death comes just two days after he announced a "leave of presence" from his writing. It was first reported by the Chicago Sun Times. In a statement released to the media, President Obama said, "Roger was as productive as he was resilient," and that "the movies won't be the same without" him.