5 Apr 2013

Film critic Roger Ebert dies

10:29 pm on 5 April 2013

American film critic Roger Ebert has died at the age of 70.

Ebert, who had lost his ability to speak and eat after surgeries for thyroid and salivary gland cancer, revealed two days before he died in Chicago on Thursday that his cancer had returned.

He was one of the most widely-read movie critics in the United States, known for more than 40 years of insightful, sometimes sarcastic and often humorous reviews, and won the Pulitzer for criticism in 1975 - the first film critic to do so.

For decades he worked at the Chicago Sun-Times and his reviews appeared in more than 200 other newspapers. But his most visible role was as one of the hosts of a popular television movie review show with Gene Siskel, a reviewer from the rival Chicago Tribune, Reuters reports.

The programme began airing in the 1970s on a Chicago public TV station and eventually ran nationally under various names, including Siskel & Ebert. The sometimes sparring pair later trademarked their "Two thumbs up!" seal of approval for movies.

After Siskel died in 1999 at age 53 due to complications from surgery for a brain tumour, Ebert teamed with critic Richard Roeper on another movie review show. He later left the programme for health reasons.

Ebert lost his ability to speak and eat after surgeries for thyroid and salivary gland cancer in 2002 and 2003 and again in 2006. But it did not stop him from working.

On Tuesday, he posted a blog entry saying he was taking a "leave of presence" and scaling back his work after doctors diagnosed that his cancer had returned. He said it was discovered by doctors after he fractured his hip in December last year.

He liked to say he would go out of his way to review foreign films, documentaries and little-known independent movies that other critics passed on, and he cranked out hundreds of reviews and essays every year.