According to the Chicago Sun-Times, where he had been reviewing movies for 46 years, Ebert died in his hometown of Chicago after a decade-long battle with cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland, a struggle that included the loss of his lower jaw in 2006.
The first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize, Ebert continued to review films and write books during his illness, even after losing the ability to speak or eat. As the Chicago Sun-Times put it, Ebert "passionately celebrated and promoted excellence in film while deflating the awful, the derivative, or the merely mediocre with an observant eye, a sharp wit and a depth of knowledge that delighted his millions of readers and viewers."
In addition to reviewing movies and writing movie guides, Ebert appeared on television for more than thirty years, including twenty-three years as co-host (with Gene Siskel) of Siskel & Ebert at the Movies. He was also a prolific author, and in his most recent book, Life Itself: A Memoir, he detailed his rise to the top ranks of Hollywood journalism; his struggle with and recovery from alcoholism; his friendships with people such as Studs Terkel and Oprah Winfrey; and finally his surgeries and the loss of his voice.
Known for his wit, his candid opinions of films (and actors), and his love of good food and a good dinner party, Ebert was an irascible bon vivant. Other book titles include Your Movie Sucks and The Great Movies II.
But above all, he was devoted to his craft, and loved his job.
From Life Itself: "I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out."
Ebert's reviews were syndicated in more than 200 newspapers and the Online Film Critics Society named his website the best online movie review site.