Legendary Chicago-based film critic Roger Ebert died Thursday at the age of 70.
Just Tuesday evening, Ebert wrote in his journal that he would be cutting back on his work load and taking a "leave of presence" due to a recurrence of cancer.
His final blog post, appropriately enough, concluded with Ebert's signature sign-off: "So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies."
Ebert, the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize and to be awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002, and cancerous growths were found on his salivary glands a year later, forcing him to undergo surgeries that left him without the ability to speak. Ebert was the Sun-Times' film critic since 1967.
President Obama on Thursday expressed his condolences to Ebert's family and wife Chaz:
Michelle and I are saddened to hear about the passing of Roger Ebert. For a generation of Americans - and especially Chicagoans - Roger was the movies. When he didn't like a film, he was honest; when he did, he was effusive - capturing the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical. Even amidst his own battles with cancer, Roger was as productive as he was resilient - continuing to share his passion and perspective with the world.
In his obituary of his colleague, Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg called Ebert "Without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic." Steinberg continued:
"For a film with a daring director, a talented cast, a captivating plot or, ideally, all three, there could be no better advocate than Roger Ebert, who 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."
The Reader's Michael Miner — a one-time colleague of Ebert's at the Sun-Times — reflected on Ebert's character and outlook on life after his most significant cancer surgery.
"No one in Chicago better embodies grace at twilight than Roger Ebert, who has written openly and frankly about the physical disasters that cost him his lower face, his voice, and his ability to swallow food," Miner said. "That they spared his writing gifts, sharpened his memories, and deepened his character is reason for rejoicing."
Not surprisingly, given Ebert's adeptness at the social media platform, Twitter was immediately flooded with heartbroken reactions to the heartbroken news from the Windy City.