Only days after announcing he was receiving treatment for a cancer recurrence, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Roger Ebert passed away on Thursday at age 70.
In his recent announcement, he stated that the 206 reviews he had written in 2012 were the most he had ever completed in a year. He also planned to launch a website next week archiving every review he wrote for the Sun-Times, expressed interest in writing a new book, and even wanted to revive his TV show At The Movies.
He began writing film reviews at the Sun-Times in 1967 when he was only 25, and by 1975 he became the first film critic to receive a Pulitzer Prize. His TV shows with Gene Siskel, who died in 1999, and Richard Roeper, illustrated the complexity of the movies and were the gold standard for film reviews around the world.
While Ebert remained active for his entire life, the only times he slowed down was momentarily in 2002 when he underwent surgery for thyroid cancer, again 12 months later to remove cancer in his salivary gland, and the 2006 surgery that removed part of his jaw and rendered him unable to speak. About his new appearance, Ebert remaked that he looked like "the thing that jumps out of that guy's intestines in Alien."
Films had always given Ebert a sense of hope even when he was too sick to do anything but watch a movie at home. In his 2011 memoir Life Itself, he wrote, "At this point in my life, in addition to writing about movies, I may write about what it's like to cope with health challenges and the limitations they can force upon you. It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital. 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."
Roger Ebert was one of the greatest minds of the 20th and 21st centuries, maintaining his healthy work ethic all the way until his death. His spirit, intelligence, and vitality will persist in all who loved and idolized him.