Roger Ebert

Roger Joseph Ebert was born in Urbana, Illinois, the son of Walter and Annabel Ebert. As a student at the University of Illinois, Roger served as the editor of the student newspaper The Daily Illini. He graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Journalism.

Roger became the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967, a position he held for forty-six years until his death on April 4, 2013.

In 1975 Roger and Gene Siskel invented a new genre of television with their movie review show, “Sneak Previews.” You can view a sample of the early shows here. The show continued in some form with additional cohosts until 2010.

Roger was Lecturer on Film for the University of Chicago Enrichment Program from 1970 until 2006, was an adjunct professor in the Department of Journalism at the University of Illinois and recorded shot-by-shot commentaries for the DVDs of “Citizen Kane,” “Casablanca,” “Floating Weeds” and “Dark City.” He authored over 20 books.

In 1992, Roger married trial attorney Charlie "Chaz" Hammelsmith, who left her law practice to manage his business dealings. You can read more about Chaz in Roger’s own words in “Roger Loves Chaz,” a blog post he wrote on the 20th anniversary of their marriage. In 1999, Roger and Chaz launched “Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival (Ebertfest),” an annual event presented every April in the historic Virginia Theatre in his hometown of Champaign-Urbana, IL.

In 2012, Roger’s autobiography, “Life Itself,” was published, and in 2014, a video documentary of the same name, directed by Steve James, was released to great acclaim.

Roger passed away on April 4, 2013, after a long battle with cancer. Following his death, many people in and out of the film industry published remembrances of Roger, praising him for his contribution to films and to the lives of those who read his work.

Awards and Achievements:

  • First film critic to receive the Pulitzer Prize in 1975
  • Only film critic with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • Member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame
  • Honorary life member of the Directors Guild of America
  • Honorary member of the Society of Cinematographers
  • Awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Screenwriters Guild
  • Received honorary degrees from the American Film Institute, the Art Institute of Chicago School of Film, and the University of Colorado at Boulder
  • In 2001 received the Order of Lincoln, the highest honor bestowed by the State of Illinois
  • In 2014 he received the Illinois Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism from the Department of Journalism at the University of Illinois