(CHICAGO) — Legendary film critic Roger Ebert has died after a long struggle with cancer, reports the Chicago Sun-Times, the paper for which he wrote. He was 70.
The paper also confirmed Ebert’s death to ABC News.
Ebert had battled cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland for the past decade, losing part of his lower jaw, as well as the ability to speak or eat, in 2006.
While he spent 46 years reviewing films for the Sun-Times, it was as the co-host of Sneak Previews, the show he started in 1975 with Chicago Tribune critic Gene Siskel, that made him a pop culture icon. Originally called Coming Soon to a Theater Near You, the movie review show was the first of its kind.
In 1981, it was renamed At the Movies, and in 1986, it was retitled Siskel & Ebert & the Movies, and the two started their signature “thumbs up thumbs down” rating system. Ebert once wrote that at that time, “The phrase ‘two thumbs up’ was not in the vernacular. And now, of course, it’s part of the language.”
After Siskel’s death, Richard Roeper became Ebert’s on-air co-host in 2000, and the show was renamed Ebert & Roeper. Ebert left the show in 2006 following his surgery.
Ebert was the first movie critic to win a Pulitzer Prize, and he also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He wrote 17 books, as well as the screenplay for the legendarily trashy B-movie Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
Ebert is survived by his wife, a step-daughter and two step-grandchildren, according to the Sun-Times. Earlier this week, he wrote a piece announcing that he was planning to “slow down” and take what he called “a leave of presence.”
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