Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Obituaries

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Obituaries

Article excerpt

Gene Siskel, movie critic

Chicago Tribune movie columnist Gene Siskel, who died in Evanston, Ill., Feb. 20 at age 53, transformed the art -- and power -- of movie critics when in 1975 he was paired with Roger Ebert, his counterpart at the rival Chicago Sun-Times.

Combining the depth and knowledge of their newspaper reviews with an entertainingly bickering on-air style, the taller, thinner Siskel and the shorter, portly Ebert went on to create the thumbs up/thumbs down judgments that became a "see it/don't see it" signal for millions of moviegoers.

Siskel died 10 months after undergoing emergency surgery to remove a growth from his brain. Within two weeks of that surgery he was watching films from his hospital bed and phoning in the reviews for the syndicated Siskel & Ebert TV show. He also continued to write the brief film reviews for his weekly Tribune column.

Earlier in February, however, Siskel announced he was taking an indefinite leave of absence from the show and column to continue his recuperation.

"We appreciated his incredible loyalty to the Tribune for nearly 30 years," says the newspaper's editor and vice president, Howard Tyner. "His television career made him a household name nationally, but his first allegiance was always to the Tribune."

Ebert wrote a tribute on the front page of the Sunday Sun-Times to the critic who evolved from a bitter rival to a respected friend: "One question we were asked again and again was: 'Do you really hate each other?' There were days at the beginning of our relationship when the honest answer sometimes was 'yes. …

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