Roger Ebert Dies from Cancer

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photo courtesy of Articulate MediaWorks via flickrPulitzer Prize-winning movie critic and television co-host, Roger Ebert died early Thursday afternoon at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago after a 10-year battle with thyroid cancer.  His death came two days after he announced on his blog that he was undergoing radiation treatment for a recurrence of cancer. He was 70 years old when he passed away.

Ebert began reviewing films for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967. In 1975 he teamed up with his Chicago Tribune counterpart and some would say future sparring partner, Gene Siskel, to discuss and argue about current movies on a Chicago public television show called “Sneak Previews.”  That same year Ebert was declared the first movie critic to win journalism’s most prestigious award, the Pulitzer Prize.

Ebert is widely known and will be remembered most for his and his partner Gene Siskel’s shorthand trademark “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” review system. The “thumbs up” catchphrase, “Siskel and Ebert” created spawned hundreds of similar shows in which critics discussed movies, music, and TV shows.

Ebert, who had battled cancer since 2002, had undergone several surgeries to remove cancerous tumors from his salivary glands and thyroid, ultimately losing his jaw and voice. While the cancer and cancer treatments forced him to reduce certain activities he still remained an active writer on his award-winning blog, Roger Ebert’s Journal where he openly discussed his failing health.

“It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital,” wrote Ebert. “So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness.”

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