12:25 PM EDT 03/19/2015
Originally posted 04/05/2013 02:30PM
If it seems like a friend has died, that's because Roger Ebert made us feel like we knew him. He was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose columns read like letters from a pal. He sat next to Gene Siskel on Sneak Previews and At the Movies, but it felt like he was just on the other end of our couches.
He democratized film criticism, fought passionately for better movies and showed us what living – and dying – with grace really meant.
If that's not a friend, then maybe I'm unclear on the definition.
Originally posted 04/20/1999 12:00AM
Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel, known for the thumbs-up and thumbs-down reviews he and Roger Ebert shared on their popular TV show, died Saturday. He was 53. Siskel had surgery in May to remove a growth from his brain, but he managed to return to the syndicated TV show "Siskel & Ebert" soon afterward. He announced only two weeks ago he was taking time off from that show to spend time recuperating from the surgery. He died at Evanston Hospital near Chicago, surrounded by his family. Among professionals, Gene was known as the friendly one (though Ebert was considered to be the better writer), and both he and Roger brought movie criticism down from its ivory tower and into people's living rooms. Gene is survived by his wife, Marlene, two daughters and a son. The TV show is expected to continue with guest co-hosts, though without the special chemistry of Siskel and Ebert, the program's long-term future is uncertain.
Top 5 Most Voted Stories
VIDEO: Meet Devina Keswani, The First Grader Transitioning From Male to Female
Daphne Oz Goes on Family Beach Outing One Month After Giving Birth
Khloé Kardashian Quits PETA after Flour Bombing of Kim Kardashian
Kentucky Woman Contracts an Infection, Undergoes Emergency Surgery – Likely Due to the Glitter Hair Tie She Wore on Her Wrist
Shonda Rhimes Slams Katherine Heigl: I Don't Put Up with Nasty People
Top 10 News Categories
The most buzzed about stars this minute!
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
More On PEOPLE.com
Got a News Tip?
Send it to our People.com editors!