Just one day after announcing he was taking a leave of absence from writing movie reviews due to a recurrence of cancer, Roger Ebert lost his battle with the disease, just 2 months shy of his 71st birthday.
Ebert was a Pulitzer prize winner for his work in the Chicago Sun-Times before a local television station there signed him and rival Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune to host a monthly series, Coming Soon.....To a Theatre Near You, in 1975, which evolved into Sneak Previews, which went national on PBS in 1977. Siskel & Ebert hosted the series until 1982, when they left the show over a contract dispute. It didn't take long for them to land a similarly themed series, At The Movies, which spent six years in syndication, distributed by Tribune, Siskel's long time employer. After that, Disney signed the team for Siskel & Ebert & The Movies, which lasted under that title until Siskel's passing in 1999.
To say that Ebert was a fighter would be an understatement. Thyroid cancer cost him a portion of his jaw seven years ago, which resulted in the loss of speech and the ability to eat. He continued to write, and for his appearances on television, a voice-over narrator would read his reviews. As noted, Ebert had only just announced on Tuesday that he was stepping away for a period as the cancer had returned. Unfortunately, fate, it seems, had other ideas. The movie industry has lost one of its most powerful voices, and Chicago, one of its most famous native sons.
Rest in peace, Roger.