Legendary film critic Roger Ebert died today at age 70, after years of battling cancer. This terrible news comes just a day after he wrote a reassuringly optimistic post saying he would be taking a “leave of presence.” Easily America’s most well-known and influential film critic, Ebert spent 46 years writing for the Chicago Sun-Times and more than 30 years on television, bringing movie criticism to the mainstream with his partner and friend/antagonist Gene Siskel. Through it all, his undeniable passion for movies never wavered. Even in his post yesterday, he wrote about how excited he was to review only the films he wanted to — something he “always fantasized about doing.”
Ebert’s battle with cancer began in early 2002, when he was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. He continued to battle the disease, eventually losing part of his jaw and his ability to speak, though he remained a vital part of all conversations thanks to his presence online and on Twitter. He had been living cancer-free for years until last December, when he was hospitalized for a hip fracture. This fracture was revealed to be cancer. He is survived by his wife, step-daughter, and two step-grandchildren. He will be greatly missed.