After decades of penning must-read movies reviews and injecting an infectious thumbs up/down craze in popular culture, film critic Roger Ebert has passed away at the age of 70.
According to reports, the iconic reviewer’s battle with cancer came to an unfortunate end this week.
Ebert, who had battled cancer in recent years, died Thursday in Chicago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. He had undergone several surgeries to remove cancerous tumors from his thyroid and salivary glands, ultimately losing his jaw to the disease, and was hospitalized in December for a broken leg. While his cancer diagnosis and the resulting treatments forced him to pull back from criticism in 2006, he remained active as a writer and maintained a powerful presence on social media sites that included his award-winning blog, Roger Ebert’s Journal. (Los Angeles Times)
The cancer reportedly turned into a substantial issue just over a decade ago, although he managed to continue writing and contributing to the entertainment world.
Mr. Ebert’s struggle with cancer, starting in 2002, gave him an altogether different public image — as someone who refused to surrender to illness. Though he had operations for cancer of the thyroid, salivary glands and chin, lost his ability to eat, drink and speak (he was fed through a tube and a prosthesis partly obscured the loss of much of his chin) and became a gaunter version of his once-portly self, he continued to write reviews and commentary and published a cookbook he had started, on meals that could be made with a rice cooker. (New York Times)
Ebert is most known for exploding into the mainstream with fellow late journalist Gene Siskel.
But it was his mid-1970s pairing with Siskel of the rival Chicago Tribune that made him a household name. The two sparred on air and off but always as equals and not without respect. The animosity was no act. “When we seemed annoyed, it was because we were annoyed,” Ebert once said. Some disagreements were legendary. “Gene didn’t like Apocalypse Now, and I was appalled. I liked Cop and a Half, and Gene was appalled.” The two were often perceived as more populist and less esteemed than critics in New York and Los Angeles. But no critics before them — or since — can boast a trademark phrase that has endured as part of the cultural lexicon. (USA Today)
On Young Money rapper Drake’s “Over” Thank Me Later track, he makes direct reference to Ebert.
It’s just what comes with the fame and I’m ready for that, I’m just saying But I really can’t complain, everything is kosher Two thumbs up, Ebert and Roeper I really can’t see the end getting any closer But I’ll probably still be the man when everything is over (“Over”)
On a less friendly note, Dipset leader Cam’ron uses the iconic critic in a line from his 2004 “Get Down” record.
That was a lot to linger But to the top I bring her But when it came to dope, I always copped in fingers Money missin, oh shit I almost chopped some fingers Slit some wrist, thats when they said oh shit he’s not a singer F*ck the rap, f*ck the movies, f*ck Siskel and Ebert This pistol I’ll squeeze it, missles if needed (KILLA) (“Get Down”)