After losing the power to speak, legendary film critic Roger Ebert went on to write about creativity, race, politics and culture -- and film, just as brilliantly as ever.
By any measure, Roger Ebert was a legend. The first person to win a Pulitzer for film criticism, as film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, he was best known for his decades-long reign as the co-host of Sneak Previews, a TV show with fellow Chicago critic Gene Siskel. For 23 years and three title changes (finally settling on Siskel and Ebert and the Movies) the two critics offered smart, short-form film criticism that guided America's moviegoing. After Gene Siskel died in 1999, Ebert kept on with critic Richard Roeper. (And he was also the co-screenwriter of the Russ Meyer cult classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, a fact that astounded more than a few young film students.)
In 2006, Ebert began treatment for thyroid cancer. He told the story of his many surgeries and setbacks in an immensely-worth-reading Esquire story in 2010. Enduring procedure after procedure, he eventually lost the lower part of his jaw -- and with it his ability to eat and speak. Turning to his blog and to Twitter, he found a new voice for his film work and his sparkling thoughts on ... just about everything. He tried his hand as an Amazon affiliate, became a finalist in the New Yorker caption contest, and started a controversy or two. In 2013 Ebert passed away from cancer at the age of 70.
“Because of the rush of human knowledge, because of the digital revolution, I have a voice, and I do not need to scream.”
“It is human nature to look away from illness. We don’t enjoy a reminder of our own fragile mortality.”
“We are born into a box of time and space. We use words and communication to break out of it and to reach out to others.”