Colleagues, leaders remember Roger Ebert

The last hand in the “two thumbs up” film critic team, Roger Ebert, died Thursday, two days after revealing cancer returned to his body.

His colleagues at the Chicago Sun-Times as well as President Obama and other Chicagoans offered their memories and respect of the Pulitzer Prize winning film critic.

President Obama released a statement this afternoon saying, “Michelle and I are saddened to hear about the passing of Roger Ebert.  For a generation of Americans – and especially Chicagoans – Roger was the movies.  When he didn’t like a film, he was honest; when he did, he was effusive – capturing the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical.  Even amidst his own battles with cancer, Roger was as productive as he was resilient – continuing to share his passion and perspective with the world.  The movies won’t be the same without Roger, and our thoughts and prayers are with Chaz and the rest of the Ebert family.”

Jim Kirk, Editor in Chief of Sun Times Media Group said,  “We are saddened to share the news that our longtime colleague Roger Ebert has died. He was 70. Roger has been writing for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years. The long relationship between Roger and his Sun-Times family speaks volumes about Roger’s commitment to his craft and to his fans around the world. Roger’s 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.”

Former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley: “Roger was a friend to many, not just moviegoers. He was down-to-earth, charitable, gracious and kind even after he achieved great fame. His courage and determination in the face of a treacherous disease inspired us all. “

The Gene Siskel Film Center is inviting people  to sign a memory book in its lobby next that will be presented to Roger’s wife Chaz.

Jean de St. Aubin, the Gene Siskel Film Center’s Executive Director said in a statement, “As everyone’s favorite film critic, an entertaining raconteur, Roger was an extraordinary communicator. Our hearts go out to Chaz, his great love and partner, and to his family. He will be greatly missed.”

Barbara Scharres, Director of Programming at the Gene Siskel Film Center who worked with Roger, offered a statement saying, in part, “Roger Ebert was one-of-a-kind.  He loved movies so much that he wanted everyone else to love them too.  This love was at the very core of his work, and he brought the rewards and joy of thinking about movies and talking and debating about movies to millions of people around the world.  This is his legacy—he made movies matter in a new way.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was also among the many offering their thoughts and condolences.  He released a statement saying, ”Our whole city learned with sadness today of the passing of Roger Ebert, whose name was synonymous with two things: the movies and Chicago.  In a Pulitzer Prize winning career that spanned more than four decades, thousands of reviews and countless acts of generosity to others, Roger championed Chicago as a center for filmmaking and critiques.  With a knowledge of his subject as deep as his love for his wife Chaz, Roger Ebert will be remembered for the strength of his work, respected for his courage in the face of illness, and revered for his contribution to filmmaking and to our city.  The final reel of his life may have run through to the end, but his memory will never fade.”

Sen Mark Kirk made a statement saying, “I am deeply saddened to learn of legendary film critic Roger Ebert’s passing.  As a movie fan, no person appreciated his extraordinary talent as a film critic more than me.  Few reach the status of a true Chicago icon. He will be missed.”

Celebrities and fans have tweeted their thoughts on his passing.  Here are just a few:

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