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April 4, 2013

Sun-Times: Famed movie critic Roger Ebert dies

(Continued)

CHICAGO —

The thumb logo remained the property of Ebert and Siskel’s widow, and in early 2011, Ebert launched his new show, “Ebert Presents At the Movies.” The show had new hosts, but featured Ebert in his own segment, “Roger’s Office.” He used a chin prosthesis and enlisted voice-over guests to read his reviews.

While some called Ebert a brave inspiration, he told The Associated Press in an email in January 2011 that bravery and courage “have little to do with it.” 

“You play the cards you’re dealt,” Ebert wrote. “What’s your choice? I have no pain, I enjoy life, and why should I complain?” 

Ebert joined the Sun-Times part time in 1966 while pursuing graduate study at the University of Chicago, and got the reviewing job the following year. His reviews were eventually syndicated to several hundred other newspapers, collected in books and repeated on innumerable websites, which would have made him one of the most influential film critics in the nation even without his television fame.

His 1975 Pulitzer for distinguished criticism was the first, and one of only three, given to a film reviewer since the category was created in 1970. In 2005, he received another honor when he became the first critic to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Ebert’s breezy and quotable style, as well as his knowledge of film technique and the business side of the industry, made him an almost instant success.

He soon began doing interviews and profiles of notable actors and directors in addition to his film reviews — celebrating such legends as Alfred Hitchcock, John Wayne and Robert Mitchum and offering words of encouragement for then-newcomer Martin Scorsese.

In 1969, he took a leave of absence from the Sun-Times to write the screenplay for “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.” The movie got an “X” rating and became somewhat of a cult film. 

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