Film Critic Roger Ebert Passes Away
posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
The Chicago Sun Times newspaper reported on Thursday that film critic Roger Ebert has passed away after a battle with cancer. He was 70. Ebert, who reviewed films for the newspaper for 46 years and on television for 31 years, covered many anime films, and his positive assessment of Japanese animation in general, especially for the films of Studio Ghibli, arguably increased the popularity and presence of anime in the United States.
Ebert won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975. He and another Chicago film reviewer, the late Gene Siskel, co-hosted a movie review television program called Siskel & Ebert & The Movies (among other titles) for well over a decade. The two became known for the signature thumbs-up or thumbs-down rating they gave films.
Ebert famously helped convince Siskel to take a second look at Hayao Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro film, which resulted in Siskel making a rare reversal of his original thumbs-down review. They would later review Miyazaki's Kiki's Delivery Service and give it an enthusiastic two thumbs up, even though it was being released on home video in North America instead of in theaters.
Ebert continued to review films after Siskel's passing in 1999 and after he himself lost much of his lower jaw to cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland in the past decade. Ebert had just posted his review of Studio Ghibli and Goro Miyazaki's From Up on Poppy Hill film on March 27. He remarked on Tuesday that he would be taking "a leave of presence" due to a recurrence of cancer, but said he would continue to write reviews.
Ebert is survived by his wife Chaz Hammelsmith, a step-daughter, and two step-grandchildren.
Photo by Eileen Ryan.