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Obit: Roger Ebert was a Superman

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 4, 2013 at 4:01PM

Sad news. Roger Ebert has died of complications of cancer. The legendary and indefatigable Pulitzer-prize-winning film critic had announced Tuesday that he was taking a "leave of presence," per his journal on the Chicago Sun-Times. Since December he had been recovering in a Chicago rehab facility from a hip fracture. It turned out that the cancer he had been fighting since 2002 had returned. He is survived by his loving wife Chaz.
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Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert

Sad news. Roger Ebert has died of complications of cancer. The legendary and indefatigable Pulitzer-prize-winning film critic had announced Tuesday that he was taking a "leave of presence," per his journal on the Chicago Sun-Times. Since December he had been recovering in a Chicago rehab facility from a hip fracture. It turned out that the cancer he had been fighting since 2002 had returned. He is survived by his loving wife Chaz. 

Only Ebert would continue to insist that he was going to continue reviewing, even if in a limited capacity. I remember at a tete-a-tete Sundance dinner marveling at his competitive drive and intense devotion to sharing his love for movies. That's what kept him alive and kicking this long. Ebert was able to hang on tenaciously to Disney/ABC's "Ebert & Roeper" after the death of his best and most evenly matched sparring partner, rival Chicago critic Gene Siskel of The Chicago Tribune, until Ebert lost his voice after jaw cancer surgery in 2006. He followed that up by producing, with Chaz Ebert and voiceover, "Ebert Presents At The Movies." Ebert wrote in his blog post: 

"What in the world is a leave of presence? It means 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 handpicked and greatly admired by me. What's more, I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review.'"

The internet and media world responded with concern and good wishes for the beloved Ebert, who had been reviewing films since 1967 and published his must-read memoir "Life Itself" in 2011. The 70-year-old critic has also made a staggeringly impressive transition to the world of social media over the past few years -- his Twitter account is more than 800,000 followers strong -- while dealing with a string of health scares and setbacks.

Chris Jones at Esquire, who wrote the original 2010 profile on Ebert that included his post-surgery photo, said that he's "hoping like Hell [Ebert] can negotiate a truce with [the cancer] again."

Adam Vary of Buzzfeed wrote: "Cancer is just wrong. Roger Ebert is usually right. Wishing him good health."

Steve Snyder of TIME Magazine tweeted that he's "devastated" by the news, but "relieved he'll keep reviewing," in addition to keeping up his wonderful Great Movies installments.

Alas, this was not to be. Ebert was the new model critic and we should all follow in his giant footsteps.

"Ebert was singular," tweeted A.O. Scott of the NY Times. "We are all in his debt." Here's the NYT obit and Variety.

--Beth Hanna contributed to this story.


This article is related to: News, Roger Ebert Fellowship , News, Obit, Critics, Reviews, Roger Ebert (1942-2013)


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.