Longtime Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert has died at age 70.
Ebert -- who reviewed movies for the Sun-Times for 46 years and on television for 31 years -- was described by the newspaper as "without question the nation's most prominent and influential film critic." His agent confirmed to ET that Ebert passed away Thursday in Chicago after suffering major health setbacks over the past decade, including battles with cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland.
Chaz Ebert, the renowned critic's wife of more than two decades, released the following statement today on the passing of her husband:
"I am devastated by the loss of my love, Roger -- my husband, my friend, my confidante and oh-so-brilliant partner of over 20 years. He fought a courageous fight. I've lost the love of my life and the world has lost a visionary and a creative and generous spirit who touched so many people all over the world. We had a lovely, lovely life together, more beautiful and epic than a movie. It had its highs and the lows, but was always experienced with good humor, grace and a deep abiding love for each other.
"Roger was a beloved husband, stepfather to Sonia and Jay, and grandfather to Raven, Emil, Mark and Joseph. Just yesterday he was saying how his grandchildren were 'the best things in my life.' He was happy and radiating satisfaction over the outpouring of responses to his blog about his 46th year as a film critic. But he was also getting tired of his fight with cancer, and said if this takes him, he has lived a great and full life.
"We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away. No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.
"We are touched by all the kindness and the outpouring of love we’ve received. And I want to echo what Roger said in his last blog, thank you for going on this journey with us."
Just this week, the Pulitzer Prize winner announced that he had been diagnosed again with cancer again and said he'd be taking what he called "a leave of presence" to undergo treatment. Ebert revealed Tuesday night on his personal blog that a hip fracture he suffered in December led to the new diagnosis of cancer and that he was being treated with radiation. He provided no other details about his condition.
"I am not going away," Ebert wrote in his blog post. "My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers. ... What's more, I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review."
Despite the fact that Ebert's previous bouts with cancer had left him with facial disfigurement, he continued to make public appearances and always recovered to continue writing his movie reviews.
In an official statement, the Sun-Times said: "Rogers reviews were highly anticipated by readers and the film community. Film commentary was only one of several gifts. He was a reporter first, in every aspect of his craft. He could write as eloquently about world affairs as he could on the upcoming blockbuster. Roger will be missed not only by the Sun-Times family, but by the journalism and film communities. Our thoughts are with Roger’s wife, Chaz, and their family during this time."
The city's rival Chicago Tribune gave its own tribute to Ebert on its website: "It was reviewing movies that made Roger Ebert as famous and wealthy as many of the stars who felt the sting or caress of his pen or were the recipients of his televised thumbs-up or thumbs-down judgments. But in his words and in his life he displayed the soul of a poet whose passions and interests extended far beyond the darkened theaters where he spent so much of his professional life."