Film critic Roger Ebert has passed away at the age of 70, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Ebert was one of the great pop-culture critics to ever give his stamp of approval or scowl of disdain to the medium, and his voice was the model for many bloggers, writers, and reviewers today.
Ebert, who began reviewing movies in the 1960s, had been battling cancer for several years, and in 2006 cancerous tissue from part of his jaw was removed after surgery. But that didn't keep him from continuing to do what he loved, and he found new life on the internet, never shying away from the spotlight even after he lost his (physical) voice.
Before the web gave us IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, and countless other sites devoted to movie reviews, Ebert, along with his longtime friend and colleague Gene Siskel (who died in 1999), sat in the balcony of a movie theater and discussed films in the 1980s television show At the Movies. I devoured that show as a young'un, using Ebert's fair and balanced critique of movies to decide where my (parents') hard-earned money would be spent at the movie theater that weekend. His "thumbs up" nod of approval would become the most-sought after review by the film industry during the 1980s and 1990s. At the Movies, launched in 1986, would continue in some incarnation until 2010.
A pioneer in the field of criticism whose work would influence countless others, Ebert will be missed greatly. I'm sure he and Siskel are sitting together right now, going at each other in some highly intelligent, slightly heated debate.