Esteemed film critic — and LGBT ally — Roger Ebert has died, one day after announcing he was cutting back on his work due to a recurrence of cancer.
Ebert had been a movie reviewer for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967, and he gained greater fame with a series of syndicated TV programs on which he reviewed films, first in partnership with the late Chicago Tribune critic Gene Siskel, later with Sun-Times colleague Richard Roeper. He and Siskel had a trademark practice of giving “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to the movies they covered each week.
He also wrote several books, and in recent years he had written political commentary in addition to his film pieces. He had a decidedly liberal bent, often criticizing George W. Bush during his presidency. And just last month he posted online a column titled “How I Am a Roman Catholic,” in which he said he still considers himself a member of the faith, although he disagrees with the official church stance on many things, including homosexuality. “My feeling is that love between consenting adults is admirable,” he wrote.
Ebert, who was 70, died today, a family friend told the Tribune. Yesterday he posted a blog entry that said he was taking a “leave of presence” and allocating some of his duties to others because of the return of his cancer. He had been unable to speak since 2006 when he suffered complications after surgery for thyroid cancer.
Survivors include his wife, Chaz.