Chaz Ebert, President Barack Obama and others issued official statements today in response to the news of legendary Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert's passing at the age of 70. Watch Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm for a special hour-long tribute to Ebert.
Official Statement from Chaz Ebert, Roger Ebert's wife:
I am devastated by the loss of my love, Roger -- my husband, my friend, my confidante and oh-so-brilliant partner of over 20 years. He fought a courageous fight. I’ve lost the love of my life and the world has lost a visionary and a creative and generous spirit who touched so many people all over the world. We had a lovely, lovely life together, more beautiful and epic than a movie. It had its highs and the lows, but was always experienced with good humor, grace and a deep abiding love for each other.
Roger was a beloved husband, stepfather to Sonia and Jay, and grandfather to Raven, Emil, Mark and Joseph. Just yesterday he was saying how his grandchildren were “the best things in my life.” He was happy and radiating satisfaction over the outpouring of responses to his blog about his 46th year as a film critic. But he was also getting tired of his fight with cancer, and said if this takes him, he has lived a great and full life.
We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away. No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.
We are touched by all the kindness and the outpouring of love we’ve received. And I want to echo what Roger said in his last blog, thank you for going on this journey with us.
Official Statement from President Obama:
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.
Official Statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel:
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.
Official Statement from Governor Pat Quinn:
I was very saddened to hear today that my good friend Roger Ebert has passed away. I – along with the people of Illinois – offer condolences to his wife Chaz, with whom I had the privilege of spending some time just last week.
Even in recent years when illness robbed him of his ability to speak, the mere act of raising his thumb brought auditoriums full of people to their feet in applause. One of my best memories was getting a ‘thumbs-up’ from Roger in 2011 when I proclaimed “Roger Ebert Day” at Ebertfest in Champaign.
Roger Ebert was Everyman with a cinematographer’s eye and an artist’s passion. His unique gift was the ability to communicate with everyday people about all kinds of movies and ultimately, the real values of life. He was one of our best-known and most respected journalists, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize as a Chicago Sun-Times film critic, and a proud and generous graduate of the University of Illinois where he began his journalism career at the Daily Illini.
The whole state joins me in mourning his passing. Roger Ebert was a great man. No doubt Gene Siskel is saving him a seat in the balcony upstairs.
Official Statement from Illinois Senator Mark Kirk:
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.
Official Statement from Dan Schmidt, President and CEO of WTTW:
Everyone at WTTW is deeply saddened by the loss of Roger Ebert, whose courageous battle with cancer in recent years was an inspiration to us all,” said Dan Schmidt, President and CEO. “He and the late Gene Siskel were seminal figures in film criticism, and certainly in the history of our station as their groundbreaking series Sneak Previews was created here. We were fortunate to enjoy a long and fruitful working relationship with Roger, and later also his beloved wife Chaz when his new series Ebert Presents at the Movies returned home to WTTW in 2011. Our sincerest condolences go out to his family, friends, colleagues, and his many fans all over the world. He was an incredible writer, thinker, and human being."