Roger Joseph Ebert was a well-known American cinema critic who rose to prominence as a result of his reviews in the Chicago Sun-Times, where he worked from 1967 until his death. His love of movies and flair for writing were evident in his writings, and many writers regarded him as one of the top American cinema critics in the world from the start of his career. He began co-hosting PBS’s ‘Sneak Previews’ with Gene Siskel because of his celebrity and unique flair. On television, the two film critics used to compliment each other and provide humor and artistic panache to the show. The phrase “Two Thumbs Up” was coined by the duo and is still trademarked. ‘Sneak Previews’ was followed by variably titled ‘At The Movies’ series, and after Siskel’s death, Richard Roeper became Ebert’s critic partner on television. Ebert is also known for co-writing screenplays, in addition to cinema criticism. He is the first cinema critic to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, which is normally designated for creative writing. In addition, he was the first film reviewer to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Childhood and Adolescence
Roger Ebert was born to Annabel and Walter Elbert in Urbana, Illinois. His father was a skilled electrician. His father was ambitious for him to have a better future, therefore he grew up in a middle-class atmosphere.
He graduated from Urbana High School and went on to become the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. While working as a sports journalist for The News-Gazette, he developed an interest in journalism. He also became a member of the science fiction community.
He was allowed to take early classes at the University of Illinois while still in school because of his extraordinary achievements. He joined the Daily Illini as an editor soon after, and his first film review was published in 1961.
On a Rotary Scholarship, he spent a year at the University of Cape Town before returning to the University of Chicago to pursue his PhD. In 1966, he took a job as a feature writer at the Chicago Sun-Times to help support himself.
Career of Roger
Working as a writer while pursuing his PhD proved to be a time-consuming procedure for Ebert, and he left the University of Chicago in the middle of his studies in 1967 to pursue his ambition of becoming a cinema critic.
In 1967, Ebert joined the Chicago Sun-Times as a full-time film critic and began to thrive as a writer, keeping his eye on the prize. ‘Illini Century: One Hundred Years of Campus Life’ was his first book. His review of ‘Night of the Living Dead’ was published in Reader’s Digest in 1969, and he co-wrote the screenplay for ‘Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.’ He was also appointed as a guest lecturer at the University of Chicago about the same period.
In 1975, he began co-hosting the Chicago public broadcasting station WTTW’s weekly film review TV show ‘Sneak Previews.’ Gene Siskel joined him later, and the two became well-known for their film critiques. From 1976 to 1979, Ebert collaborated on screenplays with Russ Meyer. ‘Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens,’ a satirical sexploitation film, ‘Up!,’ a sex comedy, and ‘Who Killed Bambi?,’ a film that was supposed to star ‘Sex Pistols,’ a British punk music band, but was shelved.
In 1982, the duo debuted a new film reviewer show called ‘At The Movies With Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert,’ which was purchased by Walt Disney four years later and renamed ‘Siskel & Ebert & The Movies.’ In 1995, Ebert and Siskel appeared as guests in an episode of the animated TV show “The Critic.” The film was a satire of ‘Sleepless in Seattle.’ Ebert made an appearance in the documentary ‘Pitch’ the following year.
After Siskel’s death in 1999, the show was renamed ‘Roger Ebert & the Movies.’ The show featured alternating co-hosts although Ebert remained a constant, and Richard Roeper was named the permanent co-host the next year.
In 2003, Ebert made a cameo appearance in the film ‘Abby Singer.’ He also started his own film festival, ‘Ebertfest,’ in his hometown of Champaign, Illinois, and attended the Hawaii International Film Festival on a regular basis.
He parted ways with the Walt Disney Company in 2008 because they wanted to change the show, which Ebert did not agree with. ‘For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism,’ a documentary on Ebert, was released in 2009. He talked about his time working with Gene Siskel as well as his thoughts on the present state of film criticism. In 2009, Ebert was awarded honorary life membership in the Directors Guild of America. In the years that followed, his final television show, ‘Ebert Presents: At The Movies,’ debuted, which featured more typical film reviews.
Major Projects of Roger
Ebert was well-known for co-hosting PBS’s ‘Sneak Previews’ with Gene Siskel, which began airing in 1975. From then on, talking about movies on TV became fashionable, and they co-hosted differently titled ‘At The Movies’ series.
Achievements & Awards
He was the first ever film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. He was not only a pioneer in the field of film criticism, but he was also the first film critic to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Personal History and Legacy
In 1992, at the age of 50, Ebert married Charlie Hammelsmith. He justified why he married at such a young age by explaining that when his mother died, he had always wanted to marry. In 2002, Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He also had surgery to remove a tumor from his salivary gland. He had surgery to remove malignant cells near his right jaw four years later, and his carotid artery burst as a result. In 2007, he lost his ability to speak and had to communicate via a digital voice system, as well as have surgery to recover his voice and treat issues from prior surgeries. On April 4, 2013, he died at the age of 70, ending an 11-year fight with cancer.
Estimated Net Worth
Roger Ebert had a net worth of $10 million when he died. He was an American cinema critic, journalist, and screenwriter. Roger Ebert began his career as a Sunday magazine writer for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1966. He was the first cinema critic to receive the Pulitzer Prize in 1975.
Ebert finished his blog a few days before his death by writing, “So, on this day of reflection, I’d like to express my gratitude for accompanying me on this voyage. I’ll catch up with you at the movies.” After more than 100 attempts, he won one of The New Yorker’s weekly caption contests in 2011. He was a lifelong acquaintance of Oprah Winfrey, the famous television personality. He was an alcoholic in recovery and a member of Alcoholic Anonymous. In 1979, he stopped drinking.