Ebert giving an interview for Sound Opinions in 2006
|Born||Roger Joseph Ebert
June 18, 1942
Urbana, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||April 4, 2013
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Education||Urbana High School (Illinois)|
|Notable work(s)||The Great Movies
The Great Movies II
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
Life Itself: A Memoir
|Notable award(s)||Pulitzer Prize for Criticism|
|Spouse(s)||Chaz Hammelsmith Ebert
(1992–2013; his death)
Roger Joseph Ebert (//; June 18, 1942 – April 4, 2013) was an American film critic, journalist and screenwriter. He was a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. As of 2010, his reviews were syndicated to more than 200 newspapers in the United States and abroad. Ebert also published more than 20 books and dozens of collections of reviews.
Ebert and Chicago Tribune critic Gene Siskel helped popularize nationally-televised film reviewing when they co-hosted the PBS show Sneak Previews, followed by several variously-named At the Movies programs. The two verbally sparred and traded humorous barbs while discussing films. They created and trademarked the phrase "Two Thumbs Up," used when both hosts gave the same film a positive review. After Siskel died in 1999, Ebert continued hosting the show with various co-hosts and then, starting in 2000, with Richard Roeper.
In 2005, Ebert became the first film critic to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times said Ebert "was without question the nation's most prominent and influential film critic", Tom Van Riper of Forbes described him as "the most powerful pundit in America", and Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called him "the best-known film critic in America".
Roger Joseph Ebert was born in Urbana, Illinois, the only child of Annabel (née Stumm), a bookkeeper, and Walter H. Ebert, an electrician. He was raised Roman Catholic, attending St. Mary's elementary school and serving as an altarboy in Urbana.
His paternal grandparents were German immigrants and his maternal ancestry was German, Dutch, and Irish. Ebert's interest in journalism began when he was a student at Urbana High School, where he was a sports writer for The News-Gazette in Champaign, Illinois; however, he began his writing career with letters of comment to the science fiction fanzines of the era. He became involved in science fiction fandom, writing articles for fanzines, including Richard A. Lupoff's Xero. In his senior year, he was class president and editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, The Echo. In 1958, he won the Illinois High School Association state speech championship in "radio speaking", an event that simulates radio newscasts.
Regarding his early influences in film criticism, Ebert wrote in the 1998 parody collection Mad About the Movies:
- I learned to be a movie critic by reading Mad magazine... Mad's parodies made me aware of the machine inside the skin – of the way a movie might look original on the outside, while inside it was just recycling the same old dumb formulas. I did not read the magazine, I plundered it for clues to the universe. Pauline Kael lost it at the movies; I lost it at Mad magazine.
Ebert began taking classes at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an early-entrance student, completing his high-school courses while also taking his first university class. After graduating from Urbana High School in 1960, Ebert then attended and received his undergraduate degree in 1964. While at the University of Illinois, Ebert worked as a reporter for the Daily Illini and then served as its editor during his senior year while also continuing to work as a reporter for the News-Gazette of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois (he had begun at the News-Gazette at age 15 covering Urbana High School sports). As an undergraduate, he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and president of the U.S. Student Press Association at Illinois. One of the first movie reviews he ever wrote was a review of La Dolce Vita, published in The Daily Illini in October 1961.
Ebert spent a semester as a master's student in the department of English there before attending the University of Cape Town on a Rotary fellowship for a year. He returned from Cape Town to his graduate studies at Illinois for two more semesters and then, after being accepted as a PhD candidate at the University of Chicago, he prepared to move to Chicago. He needed a job to support himself while he worked on his doctorate and so applied to the Chicago Daily News, hoping that, as he had already sold freelance pieces to the Daily News, including an article on the death of writer Brendan Behan, he would be hired by editor Herman Kogan. Instead Kogan referred Ebert to the city editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, Jim Hoge, who hired Ebert as a reporter and feature writer at the Sun-Times in 1966. He attended doctoral classes at the University of Chicago while working as a general reporter at the Sun-Times for a year. After movie critic Eleanor Keane left the Sun-Times in April 1967, editor Robert Zonka gave the job to Ebert. The load of graduate school and being a film critic proved too much, so Ebert left the University of Chicago to focus his energies on film criticism.
Ebert began his career as a film critic in 1967, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times. He also met film critic Pauline Kael for the first time at the New York Film Festival in 1967. After he sent her some of his columns, she told him they were "the best film criticism being done in American newspapers today". That same year, Ebert's first book, a history of the University of Illinois titled Illini Century: One Hundred Years of Campus Life, was published by the University's press. In 1969, his review of Night of the Living Dead was published in Reader's Digest.
Ebert co-wrote the screenplay for the 1970 Russ Meyer film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and sometimes joked about being responsible for the film, which was poorly received on its release but is now regarded as a cult classic. Ebert and Meyer also made Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens, Up!, and other films, and were involved in the ill-fated Sex Pistols movie Who Killed Bambi? (In April 2010, Ebert posted his screenplay of Who Killed Bambi? aka Anarchy in the UK on his blog.)
From the 1970s on, Ebert worked for the University of Chicago as a guest lecturer, teaching a night class on film. For example, his fall 2005 class was on the work of the German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
In 1975, Ebert began co-hosting a weekly film review television show, Sneak Previews, which was locally produced by the Chicago public broadcasting station WTTW. Three years later, Gene Siskel became a co-host when the show was picked up by PBS for national distribution. The duo became famous for their "thumbs up/thumbs down" review summaries. Siskel and Ebert trademarked the phrase "Two Thumbs Up".
In 1982, they moved from PBS to launch a similar syndicated commercial television show named At The Movies With Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert. In 1986, they again moved the show to new ownership, creating Siskel & Ebert & The Movies through Buena Vista Television (part of the Walt Disney Company).
After Siskel's death in 1999, the producers retitled the show Roger Ebert & the Movies and used rotating co-hosts. In September 2000, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper became the permanent co-host and the show was renamed At The Movies With Ebert & Roeper (and other later titles).
Ebert ended his association with the Disney-owned At The Movies in July 2008, after the studio indicated it wished to take the program in a new direction. On February 18, 2009, Ebert reported that he and Roeper would soon announce a new movie-review program, and reiterated this plan after Disney announced that the program's last episode would air in August 2010.
On January 31, 2009, Ebert was made an honorary life member of the Directors Guild of America. His final television series, Ebert Presents: At The Movies, premiered on January 21, 2011, with Ebert contributing a review voiced by Bill Kurtis in a brief segment called "Roger's Office", as well as featuring more traditional film reviews in the "At The Movies" format presented by Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.
His final review in the Chicago Sun-Times was for the film To the Wonder, which he gave 3.5 out of 4 stars. It was published on April 6, 2013. In July 2013, a previously-unpublished review of the film Computer Chess appeared on Ebert's website. The review had been written in March but had remained unpublished until the film's wide-release date. Matt Zoller Seitz, the editor for Ebert's website, confirmed that there were other unpublished reviews that would be eventually uploaded to the website. A second posthumously-published review, for The Spectacular Now, was published in August 2013.
Critical style and personal taste
Ebert described his critical approach to films as "relative, not absolute"; he reviewed a film for what he felt would be its prospective audience, yet always with at least some consideration as to its value as a whole. He awarded four stars to films of the highest quality, and generally a half star to those of the lowest, unless he considered the film to be "artistically inept" or "morally repugnant", in which case it received no stars.
When you ask a friend if Hellboy is any good, you're not asking if it's any good compared to Mystic River, you're asking if it's any good compared to The Punisher. And my answer would be, on a scale of one to four, if Superman is four, then Hellboy is three and The Punisher is two. In the same way, if American Beauty gets four stars, then The United States of Leland clocks in at about two.
Ebert emphasized that his star ratings had little meaning if not considered in the context of the review itself. Occasionally (as in his review of Basic Instinct 2), Ebert's star rating may have seemed at odds with his written opinion. Ebert acknowledged such cases, stating, "I cannot recommend the movie, but ... why the hell can't I? Just because it's godawful? What kind of reason is that for staying away from a movie? Godawful and boring, that would be a reason". In August 2004 Stephen King, in a column, criticized what he saw as a growing trend of leniency towards films from critics including Ebert. His main criticism was that films, citing Spider-Man 2 as an example, were constantly given four star ratings that they did not deserve. In his review of The Manson Family, Ebert gave the film three stars for achieving what it set out to do, but admitted that did not count as a recommendation per se. He similarly gave the Adam Sandler-starring remake of The Longest Yard a positive rating of three stars, but in his review, which he wrote soon after attending the Cannes Film Festival, he recommended readers not see the film because they had access to more satisfying cinematic experiences. He declined to give a star rating to The Human Centipede, arguing that the rating system was "unsuited" to such a film: "Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine."
Ebert reprinted his starred reviews in movie guides. In his appearances on The Howard Stern Show, he was frequently challenged to defend his ratings. Ebert stood by his opinions with one notable exception – when Stern pointed out that Ebert had given The Godfather Part II a three-star rating in 1974, but had subsequently given The Godfather Part III three and a half stars. Ebert later added The Godfather Part II to his "Great Movies" list in October 2008 stating that his original review has often been cited as proof of his "worthlessness" but he still had not changed his mind and would not change a word of his original review. When reviewing the 2009 remake of The Last House on the Left, Ebert noted how he had given the controversial 1972 original three and a half stars and declined to make a comparison between the two versions: "I wrote that original "Last House" review 37 years ago. I am not the same person. I am uninterested in being 'consistent'".
Ebert occasionally accused some films of having an unwholesome political agenda, and the word "fascist" accompanied more than one of Ebert's reviews of the law-and-order films of the 1970s such as Dirty Harry. He was wary of films passed off as art, but which he saw as lurid and sensational. He leveled this charge against such films as The Night Porter.
Ebert's reviews could clash with the overall reception of movies, as evidenced by his one-star review of the celebrated 1986 David Lynch film Blue Velvet ("marred by sophomoric satire and cheap shots ... in a way, [director Lynch's] behavior is more sadistic than the Hopper character"). He was dismissive of the popular 1988 Bruce Willis action film Die Hard ("inappropriate and wrongheaded interruptions reveal the fragile nature of the plot"), while his positive 3 out of 4 stars review of 1997's Speed 2: Cruise Control ("Movies like this embrace goofiness with an almost sensual pleasure") is the only one accounting for that film's 3% approval rating on the reviewer aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.
Ebert's reviews were also characterized by what has been called "dry wit". In August 2005, after Rob Schneider insulted Los Angeles Times movie critic Patrick Goldstein (who had criticized Schneider's film Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo) by commenting that Goldstein was unqualified because he had never won the Pulitzer Prize, Ebert intervened by stating that, as a Pulitzer winner, he was qualified to review the film, and bluntly told Schneider, "Your movie sucks." Ebert and Schneider would later reconcile regarding this matter.
Ebert commented on films using his Catholic upbringing as a point of reference, and was critical of films he believed were grossly ignorant of or insulting to Catholicism, such as Stigmata and Priest. He also gave favorable reviews of controversial films with themes or references to Jesus and Catholicism, including The Passion of the Christ, The Last Temptation of Christ, and to Kevin Smith's religious satire Dogma. Ebert was described as an agnostic in 2005, but preferred not being "pigeon-holed".
He often included personal anecdotes in his reviews when he considered them relevant. He occasionally wrote reviews in the forms of stories, poems, songs, scripts, open letters, or imagined conversations. He wrote many essays and articles exploring in depth the field of film criticism.
Ebert was also an advocate and supporter of Asian-American cinema, famously coming to the defense of the cast and crew of Justin Lin's Better Luck Tomorrow (2001) during a Sundance Film Festival screening when a white member of the audience asked how Asians could be portrayed in such a negative light and how a film so empty and amoral could be made for Asian-Americans and Americans. Ebert responded that "nobody would say such a thing to a bunch of white filmmakers: how could you do this to "your people"? ... Asian-American characters have the right to be whoever the hell they want to be. They do not have to represent 'their people'!" He was a supporter of the film after the incident at Sundance, and also supported a number of Asian-American films, having them also screen at his film festival (such as Eric Byler's Charlotte Sometimes). Ebert was a fan of Asian-American filmmaker Wayne Wang.
Ebert was accused by some horror movie fans of elitism in his dismissal of what he calls "Dead Teenager Movies". Ebert clarified that he did not disparage horror movies as a whole, but that he drew a distinction between films like Nosferatu and The Silence of the Lambs, which he regarded as "masterpieces", and films which he felt consisted of nothing more than groups of teenagers being killed off with the exception of one survivor to populate a sequel.
Ebert indicated that his favorite film was Citizen Kane, joking, "That's the official answer", although he preferred to emphasize it as "the most important" film. He insinuated that his real favorite film was La Dolce Vita. His favorite actor was Robert Mitchum, and his favorite actress was Ingrid Bergman. He expressed his general distaste for "top ten" lists, and all movie lists in general, but contributed a top ten list to the 2012 Sight and Sound Critics' poll. Listed alphabetically, those films were 2001: A Space Odyssey; Aguirre, the Wrath of God; Apocalypse Now; Citizen Kane; La Dolce Vita; The General; Raging Bull; Tokyo Story; The Tree of Life; and Vertigo.
Ebert compiled "best of the year" movie lists beginning in 1967, thereby helping provide an overview of his critical preferences. His top choices were:
Ebert revisited and sometimes revised his opinions. After ranking E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial third on his 1982 list, it was the only movie from that year to appear on his later "Best Films of the 1980s" list (where it also ranked third). He made similar revaluations of 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark, and 1985's Ran. The Three Colors trilogy (Blue, White, and Red), and Pulp Fiction originally ranked second and third on Ebert's 1994 list; both were included on his "Best Films of the 1990s" list, but their order had reversed.
Ebert was an admirer of director Werner Herzog, whom he supported through many years when Herzog's popularity had declined. He conducted an onstage public "conversation" with Herzog at the Telluride Film Festival in 2004, after a screening of Herzog's film Invincible at the Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival. Herzog dedicated his 2008 film Encounters at the End of the World to Ebert, and Ebert responded with a heartfelt public letter of gratitude. Herzog said he once exhorted Ebert to watch The Anna Nicole Show (which Ebert did) so he could gain a better understanding of the decline in American culture.
In 2005, Ebert opined that video games are not art, and are inferior to media created through authorial control, such as film and literature, stating, "video games can be elegant, subtle, sophisticated, challenging and visually wonderful", but "the nature of the medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art". This resulted in negative reaction from video game enthusiasts, such as writer Clive Barker, who defended video games as an art form, stating that they have the power to move people, that the views of book or film critics are less important than those of the consumers experiencing them, and that Ebert's were prejudiced. Ebert responded that the charge of prejudice was merely a euphemism for disagreement, that merely being moved by an experience does not denote it as artistic, and that critics are also consumers. Ebert later defended his position in April 2010, saying, "No video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form". He also stated that he had never found a video game "worthy of (his) time", and thus had never played one.
In a July 1, 2010, blog entry, Ebert maintained his position that video games can never be art in principle, but conceded that he should not have expressed this skepticism without being more familiar with the actual experience of playing them. He reflected on the reaction to his blog entry, gamers' attempts to recommend to him games such as Shadow of the Colossus, and his reluctance to play games due to his lack of interest in the medium. Ebert did say that he enjoyed playing Cosmology of Kyoto.
Views on the film industry
Ebert was an outspoken opponent of the Motion Picture Association of America film rating system, repeatedly criticizing its decisions regarding which movies are suitable for children. An example of this comes during his review of The Exorcist, where he criticizies the 'R' rating, suggesting an 'X' rating instead. He wrote several articles making a case for the X rating to be replaced with a new 'A' rating, which would allow for serious, well-made films with adults-only content not to have the pornographic stigma that the X brought.
He also frequently lamented that cinemas outside major cities are "booked by computer from Hollywood with no regard for local tastes", making high-quality independent and foreign films virtually unavailable to most American moviegoers.
Ebert was a strong advocate for Maxivision 48, in which the movie projector runs at 48 frames per second, as compared to the usual 24 frames per second. He was opposed to the practice whereby theatres lower the intensity of their projector bulbs in order to extend the life of the bulb, arguing that this has little effect other than to make the film harder to see. Ebert was skeptical of the recent resurgence of 3D effects in film, which he found unrealistic and distracting.
Film and TV appearances
In 1995, Ebert, along with colleague Gene Siskel, guest-starred on an episode of the animated TV series The Critic. In the episode, Siskel and Ebert split and each wants Jay as his new partner. The episode is a parody of the film Sleepless in Seattle. The following year, Ebert appeared in Pitch, a documentary by Canadian film makers Spencer Rice and Kenny Hotz.
He also made an appearance as himself in a 1997 episode of the television series Early Edition, which took place in Chicago. In the episode, Ebert consoles a young boy who is depressed after he sees a character called Bosco the Bunny die in a movie.
In 2003, Ebert had a cameo appearance in the film Abby Singer, in which he recited the white parasol monologue from Citizen Kane. Roger Ebert founded his own film festival, Ebertfest, in his home town of Champaign, Illinois, and was also a regular fixture at the Hawaii International Film Festival. On May 4, 2010, Ebert was announced by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences as the Webby Person of the Year, having taken to the Internet following his battle with cancer. On October 22, 2010, Ebert appeared on camera with Robert Osborne on the Turner Classic Movies network during the network's "The Essentials" series. Ebert chose the film Sweet Smell of Success to be shown.
During the past decade, on the day of the Academy Award ceremony, Ebert repeatedly appeared with Roeper on the live pre-awards show, An Evening at the Academy Awards: The Arrivals. This aired for over a decade, usually prior to the awards ceremony show, which also featured red carpet interviews and fashion commentary. They also used to appear on the post-awards show entitled An Evening at the Academy Awards: The Winners, produced and aired by the ABC-owned KABC-TV in Los Angeles.
Ebert was one of the principal critics featured in Gerald Peary's 2009 documentary film For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism. He is shown discussing the dynamics of appearing with Gene Siskel on the 1970s show Coming to a Theatre Near You, which was the predecessor of Sneak Previews on Chicago PBS station WTTW. He also expressed his approval of the proliferation of young people writing film reviews today on the Internet.
Ebert provided DVD audio commentaries for several films, including Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Dark City, Floating Weeds, Crumb, and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (for which Ebert also wrote the screenplay, based on a story that he co-wrote with Russ Meyer). Ebert was also interviewed by Central Park Media for an extra feature on the DVD release of the anime film Grave of the Fireflies. Ebert appeared as a guest star multiple times on Sesame Street. Before his death, it was announced that a bio-documentary called Life Itself based on Ebert was in production.
Though not making a personal appearance, an honorary effigy of Ebert co-starred in the 1998 reimagining version of Godzilla, played by actor Michael Lerner as New York City Mayor Ebert. The trademark image of the glasses, build and hair make the resemblance almost uncanny. In the final action scenes of the movie, as the heroes make their escape in a taxi, the cab displays a campaign ad on top portraying a photo of the mayor with a 'thumbs up' alongside the phrase "Re-elect Mayor Ebert".
At age 50, Ebert married trial attorney Charlie "Chaz" Hammelsmith (formerly Chaz Hammel-Smith) in 1992. He explained in his memoir, Life Itself, that he "would never marry before [his] mother died", as he was afraid of displeasing her. In a July 2012 blog entry titled "Roger loves Chaz", Ebert wrote, "She fills my horizon, she is the great fact of my life, she has my love, she saved me from the fate of living out my life alone, which is where I seemed to be heading". Chaz Ebert is now vice president of the Ebert Company and has emceed Ebertfest.
Ebert was a recovering alcoholic, having quit drinking in 1979. He was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and had written some blog entries on the subject. He was a longtime friend of, and briefly dated, Oprah Winfrey, who credited him with persuading her to syndicate The Oprah Winfrey Show, which became the highest-rated talk show in American television history. He was also good friends with film historian and critic Leonard Maltin and considered the book Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide to be the standard of film guide books.
A supporter of the Democratic Party, Ebert publicly urged liberal filmmaker Michael Moore to give a politically charged acceptance speech at the Academy Awards: "I'd like to see Michael Moore get up there and let 'em have it with both barrels and really let loose and give them a real rabble-rousing speech." During a 1996 panel at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Conference on World Affairs, Ebert coined the Boulder Pledge, by which he vowed never to purchase anything offered through the result of an unsolicited email message, or to forward chain emails or mass emails to others.
Ebert was critical of intelligent design creationism, and stated that people who believe in either creationism or New Age beliefs such as crystal healing or astrology are not qualified to be President. Ebert also expressed disbelief in pseudoscientific or supernatural claims in general, calling them "woo-woo".
Discussing his beliefs, in 2009 Ebert wrote that he did not "want to provide a category for people to apply to [him]" because he "would not want [his] convictions reduced to a word", and stated, "I have never said, although readers have freely informed me I am an atheist, an agnostic, or at the very least a secular humanist – which I am". In the same blog entry, he also said "I am not a believer, not an atheist, not an agnostic. I am still awake at night, asking how?[a] I am more content with the question than I would be with an answer." In March 2013, he wrote that he was pro-life: "My choice is to not support abortion, except in cases of a clear-cut choice between the lives of the mother and child. A child conceived through incest or rape is innocent and deserves the right to be born." He also stated: "I consider myself Catholic, lock, stock and barrel, with this technical loophole: I cannot believe in God. I refuse to call myself an atheist however, because that indicates too great a certainty about the unknowable."
In early 2002, Ebert was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer which was successfully removed in February. In 2003, he underwent surgery for cancer in his salivary gland, which was followed up by radiation treatment. He was again afflicted with cancer in 2006. In June of that year, he had surgery to remove cancerous tissue near his right jaw. A week later he had a life-threatening complication when his carotid artery burst near the surgery site. He was confined to bed rest and was unable to speak, eat, or drink for a period of time, necessitating the use of a feeding tube. The complications kept Ebert off the air for an extended period of time.
Ebert made his first public appearance since mid-2006 at Ebertfest on April 25, 2007. He was unable to speak, instead communicating through his wife. He returned to reviewing on May 18, 2007, when three of his reviews were published in print. In July 2007, he revealed that he was still unable to speak. Ebert adopted a computerized voice system to communicate, eventually using a copy of his own voice created from his recordings by CereProc. In March 2010, his health trials and new computerized voice were featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Ebert later proposed a test to determine the realism of a synthesized voice.
Ebert underwent further surgery in January 2008 to hopefully restore his voice and address the complications from his previous surgeries. On April 1, Ebert announced his speech had not been restored. A further surgery was performed in April 2008 after Ebert fractured his hip in a fall. By 2011, Ebert was using a prosthetic chin to hide some of the damage done by his many chin, mouth, and throat surgeries.
In December 2012, Ebert was hospitalized with a fractured hip. On April 2, 2013, he announced that he would be taking a "leave of presence" from his duties because the hip fracture was determined to be cancerous and would require radiation treatment. He remarked, "I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review."
Three years before his death, Ebert wrote:
I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting. My lifetime's memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.
Two days before his death, Ebert ended his final blog post by saying, "So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies." He died on April 4, 2013, at the age of 70, ending his 11-year battle with cancer.
His death prompted wide reaction from celebrities both in and out of the entertainment industry. U.S. President Barack Obama wrote, "Roger was the movies ... [he could capture] the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical ... The movies won't be the same without Roger". Robert Redford called Ebert "one of the great champions of freedom of artistic expression" and said "His personal passion for cinema was boundless, and that is sure to be his legacy for generations to come." Oprah Winfrey called Ebert's death the "end of an era", as did Steven Spielberg, who also said that Ebert's "reviews went far deeper than simply thumbs up or thumbs down. He wrote with passion through a real knowledge of film and film history, and in doing so, helped many movies find their audiences... [he] put television criticism on the map".
In September 2013, organizers in Champaign, Illinois announced plans to raise $125,000 to build a life-size bronze statue of Ebert in the town, to be unveiled in front of the Virginia Theatre at Ebertfest in 2014. The composition was selected by Chaz Ebert and depicts Ebert sitting in the middle of three theater seats giving a "thumbs up".
The 2013 Toronto International Film Festival opened with a video tribute of Roger Ebert at the Roy Thompson Hall during the world premier of the WikiLeaks based film The Fifth Estate. Ebert had been an avid supporter of the festival since its early days. His wife Chaz Ebert was in attendance to accept a plaque on Roger's behalf.
Hundreds attended the April 8, 2013 funeral Mass held at Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral, where Ebert was celebrated as a film critic, newspaperman, advocate for social justice, and husband. In his eulogy, the Rev. John F. Costello sought to dispel the notion that Ebert was either a non-believer or agnostic, by invoking the film The Hours and its observations on lives cut short; and saying that Ebert, raised Catholic, wrestled with "the mystery of faith" not as someone who rejected God but, rather, as someone forever seeking further understanding. Father Michael Pfleger concluded the service with: "the balconies of heaven are filled with angels singing Thumbs Up."
A 2-hour-and-45-minute public tribute, entitled Roger Ebert: A Celebration of Life, was held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, 2013 at the Chicago Theater. It featured in-person remembrances, video testimonials, video and film clips, gospel choirs, and was, according to the Chicago Tribune's Mark Caro, "a laughter- and sorrow-filled send-off from the entertainment and media worlds."
At the April 2014 Ebertfest the Pulitzer Prize-winner will be honored with a life size bronze statue outside the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, IL. A fan of Ebert, Scott Anderson, Jr. and the Public Art League, have commissioned the project and donations are being collected for The Roger Ebert Film Center at the University of Illinois.
Each year from 1999 to 2013, except in 2008, Ebert published Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook, a collection of all of his movie reviews from the previous two and a half years (for example, the 2011 edition, ISBN 978-0-7407-9769-9, covers January 2008 – July 2010), as well as essays and other writings. He has also written the following books:
- An Illini Century: One Hundred Years of Campus Life (1967) – A history of the first 100 years of the University of Illinois. (no ISBN)
- A Kiss Is Still a Kiss (1984) (ISBN 0-8362-7957-3)
- The Perfect London Walk (1986) – A tour of London, Ebert's favorite foreign city. (ISBN 0-8362-7929-8)
- Two Weeks In Midday Sun : A Cannes Notebook (1987) Coverage of the 1987 Cannes Film Festival which was also the 40th anniversary of the festival plus comments about the previous twelve festivals Ebert had attended. Interviews with John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey, and Isabella Rossellini. (ISBN 0-8362-7942-5)
- Behind the Phantom's Mask (1993) This is Ebert's only work of fiction which is about an on-stage murder and the resulting attention put on a previously unknown actor. (ISBN 0-8362-8021-0)
- Ebert's "Bigger" Little Movie Glossary (1994) – a book of movie clichés. (ISBN 0-8362-8289-2)
- Roger Ebert's Book of Film (1996) – a Norton Anthology of a century of writing about the movies. (ISBN 0-393-04000-3)
- I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie (2000) – a collection of reviews of films that received two stars or fewer. (The title comes from his review of North.) (ISBN 0-7407-0672-1)
- Questions for the Movie Answer Man (1997) – his responses to questions sent from his readers. (ISBN 0-8362-2894-4)
- The Great Movies (2002), The Great Movies II (2005), and The Great Movies III (2010) – Three books of essays about great films. (ISBN 0-7679-1038-9, ISBN 0-7679-1950-5, and ISBN 978-0-226-18208-7)
- Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert (2006) – a collection of essays from his 40 years as a film critic, featuring interviews, profiles, essays, his initial reviews upon a film's release, as well as critical exchanges between the film critics Richard Corliss and Andrew Sarris. The Foreword was written by David Bordwell. (ISBN 0-226-18200-2)
- Your Movie Sucks (2007) – A collection of less-than-two-star reviews. (The title comes from his review of Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.) (ISBN 0-7407-6366-0)
- Roger Ebert's Four-Star Reviews 1967–2007 (2007) (ISBN 0-7407-7179-5)
- Scorsese by Ebert (2008) - Covers works by director Martin Scorsese from 1967 to 2008 plus 11 interviews with the director over that time period. (ISBN 978-0-226-18202-5)
- The Pot and How to Use It: The Mystery and Romance of the Rice Cooker (2010) (ISBN 0-7407-9142-7)
- Life Itself: A Memoir. (2011) New York: Grand Central Publishing. (ISBN 0-4465-8497-5)
- A Horrible Experience of Unbearable Length (2012) A third book of less-than-two star reviews, for movies released after 2006. (The title comes from his review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.) (ISBN 1-4494-1025-1)
- The question how in these last sentences of the blog entry refers back to its first paragraph in which Ebert writes that as a second-grader he would lie awake at night asking himself the questions "But how could God have no beginning? And how could he have no end?".
- Steinberg, Neil (April 4, 2013). "Roger Ebert dies at 70 after battle with cancer". Chicago Sun-Times.
- "RogerEbert.com". RogerEbert.com. October 13, 2004. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- Rousseau, Caryn (April 4, 2013). "Roger Ebert, first movie critic to win Pulitzer, dies at 70". The Salt Lake Tribune.
- Riper, Tom Van (September 24, 2007). "The Top Pundits in America". Forbes (Forbes). Retrieved December 9, 2008.
- Turan, Kenneth (April 4, 2013). "Remembrance: Roger Ebert, film's hero to the end". Los Angeles Times.
- "Roger Ebert – Archive Interview Part 1 of 3 ". YouTube. May 20, 2008. Retrieved June 7, 2012.
- "Biography of Roger Ebert". Film Reference. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
- "Ebert, Roger (R. Hyde, Reinhold Timme)". encyclopedia.com. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- Roger Ebert (January 19, 2011). "The Company Men". rogerebert.com.
- Felsenthal, Carol (December 2005). 'A Life In The Movies'. Chicago Magazine. Kael quote, p. 1; agnosticism, p. 2; Catholic upbringing, p. 3. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
- Ebert's review of Maryam (April 12, 2002)
- "Oh, say, can you wear?". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Ebert, Roger (February 22, 2013). "What was my Aunt Martha trying to ask me?" Chicago Sun-Times.
- See his autobiographical essay in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, "Thought Experiments: How Propeller-Heads, BNFs, Sercon Geeks, Newbies, Recovering GAFIAtors, and Kids in the Basements Invented the World Wide Web, All Except for the Delivery System."
- "Roger Ebert in the IHSA list of state speech champions, 1957–58". Ihsa.org. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
- Foreword to Mad About the Movies, Mad Books, 1998, ISBN 1-56389-459-9
- Ebert, Roger. Life Itself: A Memoir. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2011. p. 91.
- Ebert, Roger. Life Itself: A Memoir. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2011. p. 30.
- Ebert, Roger. Life Itself: A Memoir. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2011. pp. 92, 96.
- La Dolce Vita @ rogerebert.com, October 4, 1961.
- Ebert, Roger. Life Itself: A Memoir. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2011. p.96.
- Ebert, Roger. Life Itself: A Memoir. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2011. p. 139.
- "Ebert named film critic." Chicago Sun-Times, April 5, 1967, p. 57.
- Ebert, Roger. Life Itself: A Memoir. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2011. pp. 142–143.
- Ebert’s review of Night of the Living Dead January 5, 1967
- Ebert, Roger. "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls". Rogerebert.suntimes.com date=1980. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- Ebert, Roger. "'Who Killed Bambi?' – A screenplay", Chicago Sun-Times, April 25, 2010
- Gliatto, Tom (November 1, 1999). "Despite the Loss of Film-Critic Buddy Gene Siskel, Roger Ebert Gives Life a Thumbs-Up". People.
- "Ebert and Roeper No Longer at the Movies". New York Times. July 22, 2008. Retrieved Aug. 30, 2013.
- "Roger Ebert. "By the time we get to Phoenix, he'll be laughing" February 18, 2009". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. October 13, 2004. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- TV Guide; April 12, 2010; Page 64.
- "Directors Guild to honor Roger Ebert" Yahoo! News/Reuters/The Hollywood Reporter; December 17, 2008
- Roger Ebert returns with new PBS review show, Caryn Rousseau, Associated Press (via Deseret News), January 19, 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
- Ebert, Roger (April 6, 2013). "To the Wonder Movie Review & Film Summary (2013)". rogerebert.com.
- Ebert, Roger (July 18, 2013). "Computer Chess Movie Review & Film Summary (2013)". rogerebert.com.
- Shetty, Sharan (July 18, 2013), A New Review From Roger Ebert, Slate
- Ebert, Roger (August 2, 2013). "The Spectacular Now Movie Review & Film Summary (2013)". rogerebert.com.
- "''Death Wish II'' review by Roger Ebert". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- Ebert's review of Shaolin Soccer (April 23, 2004)
- Ebert's review of Basic Instinct 2 (March 21, 2006)
- King, Stephen, "The Four-Star Follies", August 20, 2004. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
- "Ebert's review of ''The Longest Yard'' (2005 version) at rogerebert.com; May 27, 2005". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- "Ebert's review of ''The Human Centipede'' at rogerebert.com; May 5, 2010". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- Ebert, Roger (October 2, 2008). "The Godfather, Part II review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 28, 2010.
- "Ebert's review of The Last House on the Left (2009)". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. March 11, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
- "Ebert's review of The Night Porter". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. February 10, 1975. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- Ebert, Roger. "Review of Blue Velvet". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved September 4, 2009.
- Ebert, Roger. "Review of Die Hard". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved September 4, 2009.
- Ebert, Roger. "Review of Speed 2: Cruise Control". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved September 4, 2009.
- "Speed 2 - Cruise Control (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 04 September 2013.
- "Yamato, Jen; "Meet a Critic: Roger Ebert!: RT chats with America's favorite critic." December 19, 2007". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- "Ebert's review of ''Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo''". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- Richard Corliss. "Thumbs Up for Roger Ebert" Time magazine; June 23, 2007 Page 2 of 5
- "Ebert, Roger. "A bouquet arrives"". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. May 7, 2007. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- Champ Clark. "Unlikely Fan Sends Roger Ebert Flowers" People; May 10, 2007
- Ebert's review of Stigmata (January 1, 1999)
- "Roger Ebert. Review of ''Priest''. suntimes.com. April 7, 1995". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- Ebert's review of Dogma (November 12, 1999)
- Roger Ebert (April 17, 2009). "How I believe in God". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
- "Roger Ebert's review of "Wet Hot American Summer". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- "Roger Ebert's Great Movies review of "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial"". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- "Roger Ebert's Review of "A Cinderella Story"". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- "Roger Ebert's review of "The Howling"". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- "Roger Ebert's review of "The Hudsucker Proxy"". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- "When Audiences Attack at Sundance". Film Threat. January 19, 2012.
- Davis, Erik (February 22, 2013). "About That Time Roger Ebert Fought a Heckler over Justin Lin's 'Better Luck Tomorrow'". Movies.com.
- Harris, Dana (April 4, 2013). "This Video Shows Exactly What We Lost With the Death of Roger Ebert". IndieWire.
- Ebert, Roger. "'Sometimes' a Great Notion'. Chicago Sun-Times. Archived at charlottesometimesthemovie.com. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- Ebert, Roger (October 4, 2008). "Wayne Wang: Twenty-six years of good movies" @ rogerebert.com.
- Gurnow, Michael (2007). "Roger Ebert's Bloody Ax: An Examination of the Film Critic's Elitist Dismissal of the Horror Film". The Horror Review. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
- Dumont, Aaron (September 4, 2008). "Roger Ebert. "What's your favorite movie?" Chicago Sun-Times". Blogs.suntimes.com. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
- "Biography page for Ebert at". Tv.com. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
- Roger Ebert (September 2012). "The Greatest Films Poll". BFI. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
- "Ebert's 10 Best Lists: 1967–present". Chicago Sun-Times.
- "Siskel and Ebert Top Ten Lists (1969–1998)". innermind.com. Retrieved November 11, 2011.
- "Roger Ebert. "A letter to Werner Herzog: In praise of rapturous truth" rogerebert.com November 17, 2007". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. November 17, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
- Holdengräber, Paul. "Quoted by Execrable Frippery". Was the 20th Century a Mistake? Werner Herzog in conversation with Paul Holdengräber. New York Public Library, 2007. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
- Ebert, Roger (November 27, 2005). "Why did the chicken cross the genders?" rogerebert.com.
- Ebert, Roger (December 6, 2005). "Gamers fire flaming posts, e-mails...". rogerebert.com/Chicago Sun-Times.
- Ebert, Roger (July 21, 2007). "Games vs. Art: Ebert vs. Barker". rogerebert.com.
- Ebert, Roger (April 16, 2010). "Video games can never be art". Roger Ebert's Journal.
- Brockway, Robert (April 22, 2010). "Why Ebert is Wrong: A Defense of Games As Art". Cracked.com.
- Ebert, Roger (July 1, 2010). Roger Ebert. "Okay, kids, play on my lawn". rogerebert.com.
- Ebert, Roger (December 11, 2010). "Roger Ebert on Movie Ratings — WSJ.com". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
- Ebert, Roger (January 29, 2004). "They got it right". Chicago Sun-Times.
- "Ebert's "Movie Answer Man column", February 19, 2006". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
- Ebert, Roger (August 16, 2008). "D-minus for 3-D". Chicago Sun-Times: Blogs. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
- TV.com Episode summary: The Critic – "Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice"
- Ebert, Roger (June 1, 1997). Questions for the Movie Answer Man. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 99. ISBN 0-8362-2894-4. "In the Spring of 1997, I did a guest appearance on the show, consoling a little boy who was depressed that Bosco the Bunny had died."
- "The Webby Awards". The Webby Awards. June 14, 2010. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
- For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism. TCM Movie Database. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
- Wloszczyna, Susan (April 3, 2013). "Film critic Roger Ebert is fighting cancer again".
- "Chaz Ebert Bio". DailyEntertainmentNews. January 12, 2013. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
- Neil Steinberg (April 4, 2013). "Roger Ebert (1942–2013)". Chicago Sun-Times via RogerEbert.com.
- Ebert, Roger (July 17, 2012). "Roger loves Chaz". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Jones, Chris (February 16, 2010). "Roger Ebert: The Essential Man". Esquire
- Roger Ebert (August 25, 2009). "My Name is Roger, and I'm an alcoholic". Sun-Times Media Group. Retrieved August 25, 2009.
- "How I gave Oprah her start", Ebert, Roger; Chicago Sun-Times, November 16, 2005
- Rose, Lacey (January 29, 2009). "America's Top-Earning Black Stars". Forbes.
- "Ebert's political donations". Newsmeat.com. September 30, 2009.
- "Interview with Matthew Rothschild, ''The Progressive'', August 2003". Findarticles.com. June 2, 2009.
- "Critical eye by Roger Ebert — Enough! A Modest Proposal to End the Junk Mail Plague". Panix.com. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
- "Roger Ebert gets "two thumbs up" from the Lumber Cartel for this distinct, well-written pledge". The Lumber Cartel, local 42. Retrieved November 14, 2006.
- "Bill Weinman · Why I Keep The Boulder Pledge". Bw.org.
- Roger Ebert (September 4, 2009). "The Longest Thread Evolves". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved September 4, 2009.
- Ebert, Roger (December 2, 2009). "Roger Ebert's Journal: New Agers and Creationists should not be President". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 3, 2009.
- Ebert, Roger. "A Dangerous Method". rogerebert.com. December 14, 2011
- Caro, Mark (April 9, 2013) Roger Ebert's funeral: 'He had a heart big enough to love all' Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
- Ebert, Roger (March 1, 2013) How I am a Roman Catholic Roger Ebert's Journal. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
- Roger Ebert Wins the Cartoon Caption Contest, Robert Mankoff, The New Yorker, April 25, 2011
- Email from Roger, August 17, 2006, posted on his website
- Ebert's words in his review of Sicko, June 29, 2007
- Ebert, Roger (January 6, 2010). "Nil by mouth". rogerebert.com. Chicago Sun-Times.
- Jim Emerson (March 29, 2007). "Ebertfest '07: "It's his happening and it freaks him out!"". rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved September 4, 2009.
- Ebert, Roger. "RogerEbert.com Front Page". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 22, 2007.
- "RogerEbert.com commentary". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved July 23, 2007.
- Lund, Jordan. "Roger Ebert's Journal: Finding my own voice 8 December 2009". Blogs.suntimes.com. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
- Ebert, Roger (March 5, 2010). "Hello, this is me speaking". rogerebert.com. Chicago Sun-Times.
- Tucker, Ken (March 2, 2010). "'Oprah': Roger Ebert predicts the Oscars, movingly: 'No more surgery for me'". Entertainment Weekly.
- "Roger Ebert Tests His Vocal Cords, and Comedic Delivery". New York Times. March 7, 2011.
- Emerick, Laura (January 25, 2008). "Ebert doing well after surgery". rogerebert.com/Chicago Sun-Times.
- "Thumbs up for Roger Ebert after latest bout of surgery, lawyer reports". CBC. January 25, 2008. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
- ""Roger Ebert: Let's go to the movies"; Chicago Sun-Times; April 1, 2008". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on Apr. 4, 2008. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
- "Ebert recovering from hip surgery". Chicago Sun-Times. April 18, 2008. Retrieved Aug. 20, 2013.
- Ebert, Roger (January 19, 2011). "Leading with my chin", Roger Ebert's Journal.
- "Roger Ebert hospitalised with fractured hip". 3 News NZ. December 7, 2012.
- Dawn, Randee (April 3, 2013). "Roger Ebert's cancer recurs, critic takes 'leave of presence' from writing duties". NBC News.
- Ebert, Roger (April 2, 2013). "A Leave of Presence". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Corely, Cheryl (April 4, 2013). "For Pulitzer-Winning Critic Roger Ebert, Films Were A Journey". NPR.
- "Death of film critic Ebert elicits wide reaction". Boston Herald. Associated Press. April 4, 2013. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- Statement by the President on the Passing of Roger Ebert – The White House Retrieved April 5, 2013
- Stamets, Bill (April 8, 2013). "Roger Ebert's Funeral: 'The Vanilla Sky Opens To Welcome One of its Own Home'". The Hollywood Reporter, via Yahoo Movies. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
- "Ebert statue planned in Champaign". Chicago Sun-Times. September 12, 2013. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
- Caro, Mark (April 12, 2013). "Roger Ebert honored by Hollywood stars for his 'tenacity,' 'zest for life'". The Chicago Tribune: Arts & Entertainment section. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
- Patches, Matt (October 23, 2013). "Roger Ebert Statue Planned for 2014 Ebertfest Unveiling". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
- Bordwell, David. "The Foreword by David Bordwell to Awake in the Dark". University of Chicago Press.
- Severson, Kim (August 31, 2010). "Roger Ebert: No Longer an Eater, Still a Cook". The New York Times. Retrieved October 30, 2010.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Roger Ebert|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Roger Ebert.|
- Official website
- LifeStory Page: Honor Roger Ebert's Memory
- Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival
- Archive of American Television interview
- Roger Ebert at the Internet Movie Database
- Siskel & Ebert's classic shows (1975–1999)
- Speech: Remaking My Voice (2011)
- Appearances on C-SPAN