CHICAGO – Roger Ebert announced late Tuesday night that he is stepping back from some duties as Chicago Sun-Times’ film critic after a recurrence of cancer.
Calling the move a “leave of presence,” Ebert wrote on his online journal: “The ‘painful fracture’ that made it difficult for me to walk has recently been revealed to be a cancer. It is being treated with radiation, which has made it impossible for me to attend as many movies as I used to.”
The 70-year-old critic, one of Chicago’s most widely embraced figures, wrote that he is “not going away” but will be relying more on others to review films.
Ebert, who became the Chicago Sun-Times’ film critic exactly 46 years ago today and rose to national prominence through a progression of movie-review TV series co-hosted with the late Tribune film critic Gene Siskel, has endured multiple health problems over the past 11 years. He was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002 and cancerous growths in his salivary glands the following year. Complications from cancer and reconstructive surgeries in 2006 left Ebert without his lower jaw or the ability to speak or to eat solid foods.
Yet although Ebert had to relinquish his televised review duties, he remained active not only reviewing movies for the newspaper but also blogging and participating in social media. His essays for the online “Roger Ebert’s Journal” led to the acclaimed 2011 memoir “Life Itself.”