Roger Ebert Changed How We See Movies, Says PEOPLE's Film Critic

If it seems like a friend has died, that’s because Roger Ebert made us feel like we knew him. He was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose columns read like letters from a pal. He sat next to Gene Siskel on Sneak Previews and At the Movies, but it felt like he was just on the other end of our couches.

He democratized film criticism, fought passionately for better movies and showed us what living – and dying – with grace really meant.

SISKEL GOES ON DL

Award-winning syndicated film critic Gene Siskel will take a six-month leave of absence from all work activities to continue his recovery from brain surgery, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Siskel, best known as the partner of rival Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert on the long-running syndicated television show “Siskel & Ebert,” had brain surgery in New York in May and returned to work in June.

REMEMBERING SISKEL

Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel, known for the thumbs-up and thumbs-down reviews he and Roger Ebert shared on their popular TV show, died Saturday. He was 53. Siskel had surgery in May to remove a growth from his brain, but he managed to return to the syndicated TV show “Siskel & Ebert” soon afterward. He announced only two weeks ago he was taking time off from that show to spend time recuperating from the surgery. He died at Evanston Hospital near Chicago, surrounded by his family.