I was deeply saddened to read that Roger Ebert passed away. For me Rogert Ebert will always be half of the movie critic duo of Siskel and Ebert (they are pictured together at the top of this post). I used to watch their weekly movie review show to see what they thought of the new movies and often used their reviews in deciding if I wanted to go see a movie or not (like lots of other people I might add). Their show was a big part of my life.
I think what originally drew me in was my love for movies. I've often thought that it would be great to be able to make a living by being a film critic, so it is only natural that I would enjoy watching these two do their show. For me Roger seemed more down to earth that Gene. Gene often appeared very snobbish for my taste, but the two of them together did what I thought movie critcs should do. They told us what they thought of the movies they reviewed and between the two of them you could get a good idea of if a movie was worth seeing.
Time when by and Gene Siskel died and he was replaced by another film critic. I had stopped watching the show at this point and not long afterwards I moved to Germany so I wasn't aware of all that Roger Ebert with through in the past decade, so I was really surprised when I read the accounts of Roger Ebert after he died! He had quite a battle with cancer and as a result part of his jaw was removed and long story short he lost the ability to eat, drink, and speak and even needed a feed tube at one point. He turned to a series of computer voices in order to speak, this eventually included a copy of his own voice derived from his own DVD commentaries! The picture above is a caricature of Roger Ebert drawn sometime after the problems with his throat.
I was surprised to learn that Roger Ebert was largely responsible for convincing Oprah Winfrey to sysndicate her show, would Oprah have been nearly as popular if she hadn't listened to his suggesion to go into syndication? Good Morning American had a nice interview with Chaz Ebert, Roger's wife, there is a video in the article but I'm not able to view it from Germany. It sounds like they had quite a life together.
Even though his show didn't hold the same priority and place in my heart as it did when I was younger, I really miss the show that he and Siskel used to do. I admire his attempts to continue and carry on after his health initially became an issue. I wonder what it must have been like to fight the battle he fought with his voice. Losing his partner to cancer earlier, I'm sure that he often had doubts if he would be able to keep fighting. I wonder how many movie critic were influenced by Siskel and Ebert? Whenever I think of thumbs up, I'll always think of you and Gene Siskel. I hope that you get to meet all the stars that passed away before you. Imagine the movies they could be making now.
Photo credits: "Siskel & Ebert" picture from Roger Ebert's timeline on Facebook. Roger Ebert giving Thumbs up picture courtesy of the IMDb. The caricature of Roger Ebert is from kaganmcleod.com. All of the pictures above have been re-pinned to my Gone But Not Forgotten board on Pinterest.
You might want to also want to check out...
- The ABC story about Roger Ebert
- Roger Ebert Through the Years (a nice slide presentation showing him through the years).
- Wikipedia Entry on Roger Ebert
- Wikipedia Entry on Gene Siskel
- Roger Ebert Defends 'Star Wars' (Roger and Gene face-off on Night-Line against a critic that is definitely not a Star Wars fan).