By AJ Hammer (CNN)- Legendary film critic Roger Ebert has died.
He was 70 years old and recently announced he was battling a recurrence of cancer.
The Pulitzer Prize winner is being remembered tonight for his decades of contributions to the film industry.
HIS QUICK WIT AND "THUMBS UP, THUMBS DOWN" MOVIE REVIEWS EARNED ROGER EBERT FAME AS ONE OF AMERICA'S MOST PROMINENT FILM CRITICS. THE ILLINOIS NATIVE SAID HIS LOVE OF CINEMA CAME AT AN EARLY AGE:
"I started going to the movies when I was a child like everybody did. My aunt would take me to the grownup movies. My dad took me to see the Marx Brothers. I just loved movies."
EBERT BEGAN WRITING FILM REVIEWS FOR THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES IN THE LATE SIXTIES... AND IN 1975 WAS THE FIRST FILM CRITIC TO WIN THE PULITIZER PRIZE FOR CRITICISM. IN 1970 HE DABBLED IN SCREENWRITING, CO-AUTHORING "BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS" WITH RUSS MEYER.
IN 1976, EBERT TEAMED WITH A COMPETITOR - CHICAGO TRIBUNE FILM CRITIC GENE SISKEL - TO HOST A WEEKLY MOVIE REVIEW PROGRAM ON LOCAL T-V.
WITHIN A FEW YEARS, IT WAS PUT INTO SYNDICATION AND "SISKEL AND EBERT'S" 'THUMBS UP/THUMBS DOWN' RATING SYSTEM SOON BECAME THEIR TRADEMARK.
"Two thumbs up had never been applied in human history to anything. The phrase two thumbs up was not in use. People say thumbs up. So today, when people say, "I give it two thumbs up" they're quoting us. So that's what we trademarked because we didn't want every film critic in the country to start doing that."
IN 1999, SISKEL DIED FROM COMPLICATIONS STEMMING FROM A BRAIN TUMOR OPERATION.
THE SHOW'S TITLE WAS CHANGED TO "ROGER EBERT AND THE MOVIES."
A SHORT TIME LATER, FELLOW SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST RICHARD ROEPER BECAME PERMANENT CO-HOST OF THE SHOW, WHICH WAS LATER TITLED "EBERT AND ROEPER."
ROGER EBERT ALSO PUBLISHED ANNUAL COLLECTIONS OF HIS FILM REVIEWS, AS WELL AS SEVERAL FILM GUIDES.
NOT ONE TO BE LEFT BEHIND, EBERT EMBRACED SOCIAL MEDIA, ACTIVELY TWEETING... NEVER LOSING HIS VOICE DESPITE BATTLIING BOTH THYROID AND SALIVARY GLAND CANCERS AND UNDEROING NUMEROUS SURGERIES IN RECENT YEARS.
"My legacy, if there is one, will have to do with supporting films people might not have seen and supporting directors that deserve support. Of course, I review the big blockbusters and commercial films, but from the very beginning, it's been very important to me, to go out and look for independent films, documentaries, first films by young directors, and foreign films, because those are the ones that people need to hear about."
"The balcony is closed."
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