Legendary film critic Roger Ebert has passed away today at the age of 70 according to The Chicago Sun-Times.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning reviewer died from complications from cancer, just two days after announcing on his blog that he was planning to slow down or take a “leave of presence” due to a recurrence of the disease.
Ebert was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer in 2002 and cancer in his salivary gland in 2003 and in June of 2006, he underwent additional surgery to remove part of his jaw.
“It means I am not going away,” Ebert wrote. “I’ll be able at last to do what I’ve always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review.”
For more than 45 years, he served as the film critic for the Sun-Times and along with the late Gene Siskel, he popularized the use of the “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down” ratings system.
“Prolific almost to the point of disbelief — Ebert was arguably the most powerful movie critic in the history of that art form,” wrote The Chicago Tribune.
“Ebert is generally seen as a champion of filmmakers and underappreciated films, a fair reviewer with a dry wit and occasional quirks who wouldn’t hesitate to sock it to films he considers below par, but never in a mean or vindictive way,” wrote Variety.
He is survived by his wife, Charlie “Chaz” Hammel-Smith, one stepdaughter and two step-grandchildren.
In his memory, The Chicago Tribune published the following cartoon of the beloved critic being “welcomed” by his old pal: