Film critic Roger Ebert died Thursday after a long battle with cancer, TVGuide.com has confirmed. He was 70.
Born in Urbana, Ill., Ebert began his career as a journalist at age 15, when he covered the high school beat for the local newspaper, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, where Ebert worked up until his death. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1964 and went to work part-time at the Sun-Times in 1966. He was promoted to film critic when the paper's previous critic retired.
Ebert went on to review hundreds of movies during his nearly 50 years as a film critic, both in print and on the television show At the Movies with partner Gene Siskel and later Richard Roeper. Siskel and Ebert, who were famous for their heated disagreements about some films, ended their reviews with a "thumbs up" or a "thumbs down." The best of films often received a "two thumbs up," endorsement, a that phrase quickly entered the lexicon.
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Throughout the course of his career, Ebert also published 17 books, on topics ranging from his favorite movies to rice cookers, the Sun-Times reports. He also authored an autobiography, Life Itself, which was published in 2011. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005, and was the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize, which he did in 1975.
In 2002, Ebert had surgery to remove a malignant tumor on his thyroid and underwent subsequent procedures for growths on his salivary glands. He gave up regular TV appearances in 2006, when he lost part of his lower jaw to cancer and was rendered unable to speak or eat. However, he continued to write film reviews for print publications and on his website, RogerEbert.com.
Earlier this week, he announced that his cancer had returned and that he was going to be taking a "leave of presence" from reviewing films. His last written words in that blog post: "Thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies."
Ebert is survived by his wife, a step-daughter and two step-grandchildren, according to the Sun-Times.