Roger Ebert, the prolific film critic who, for better or worse, pioneered the “thumbs up, thumbs down” rating system, died today after a long battle with cancer, the Chicago Sun-Times–where he became a film critic in 1967–reports. He was 70.
“It’s a very sad day for anyone who cares about newspapers,” said Robert Kurson, an author and former Sun-Times writer. “I started out as a lowly agate clerk, but he was as happy to talk to me about the business and about writing and storytelling as he was the legends who had been in the game for decades.”
In the last essay he wrote for his blog, published on April 2, Mr. Ebert told his readers that he would be taking a “leave of presence.”
“The immediate reason for my ‘leave of presence,'” Mr. Ebert wrote, “is my health. The ‘painful fracture’ that made it difficult for me to walk has recently been revealed to be a cancer. It is being treated with radiation, which has made it impossible for me to attend as many movies as I used to.”
The last words of that essay are: “I’ll see you at the movies.”