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Film critic, screenwriter Roger Ebert dead at 70

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Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert has died at 70. (Source: MGN) Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert has died at 70. (Source: MGN)
The front page of the Chicago Sun-Times has been dedicated to Roger Ebert, who worked for the paper for decades. (Source: Chicago Sun-Times) The front page of the Chicago Sun-Times has been dedicated to Roger Ebert, who worked for the paper for decades. (Source: Chicago Sun-Times)
Ebert married Charlie "Chaz" Hammel-Smith in 1992. (Source: CNN) Ebert married Charlie "Chaz" Hammel-Smith in 1992. (Source: CNN)

(RNN) - Film critic and journalist Roger Ebert has died at 70 after taking a leave of absence earlier this week for recurring cancer.

Ebert was known for his Chicago Sun-Times film column that he wrote since 1967.

The Illinois native battled cancer in his thyroid and salivary glands and underwent surgeries in 2002 and 2003.

The lower part of his jaw was eventually removed in 2006 after more cancer in his mouth was discovered. Complications from the surgery cost him the ability to eat and speak.

The lower portion of his face also was disfigured.

He fractured a hip in 2012, which led to doctors discovering a recurrence of his cancer.

On Tuesday, Ebert posted online that he was receiving radiation treatment and would take a "leave of presence" from his duties.

"It means I am not going away," Ebert wrote. "I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review."

He ended his blog on an optimistic tone, expressing gratitude toward his readers.

"So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies," he said.

Ebert began writing for the Sun-Times in 1966 when he began contributing to their Sunday magazine.

Although he was best known for his work as a journalist, Ebert also hosted the popular show At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert until Siskel died from brain cancer in 1999.

Their contrast of styles – Ebert was outgoing and quick-witted, and Siskel was more easygoing – paired with their passion and knowledge of the film industry turned their show from a local sensation into a national success.

Ebert and Siskel trademarked the phrase "two thumbs up."

Ebert became the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for criticism when he won the award in 1975. He was also the first film critic ever awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004.

Ebert also had a film career of his own, taking time off from his duties at the Sun-Times in 1969 to write a screenplay. The movie was titled Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

After he lost his physical voice, Ebert continued to develop his Facebook page, a Twitter account with nearly 600,000 followers, and a blog he called "Roger Ebert's Journal."

He reviewed more than 300 movies last year.

"Every great film should seem new every time you see it," Ebert once said.

Born June 18, 1942 in Urbana, IL, he is the only child of Annabel and Walter Ebert. He graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1964.

Ebert began working on his doctorate degree in English at the University of Chicago soon after his graduation, however he left the university to work at the Sun-Times.

He married Charlie "Chaz" Hammel-Smith in 1992.

Ebert was a stepfather to Hammel-Smith's two children from a previous marriage.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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