The SAG-AFTRA Chicago Local is deeply saddened by the loss of our local member and film icon Roger Ebert. Mr. Ebert was a bright light in a city of luminaries.
A no-nonsense, straight-talking, Midwestern original, Mr. Ebert always spoke his mind, and did so with an eloquence and beauty unmatched in film critique.
Mr. Ebert went to work at the Chicago Sun-Times at the tender age of 24 and quickly developed a distinctive style that would serve to make him the quintessential movie critic of his generation. He and his longtime “sparring partner” Tribune critic Gene Siskel became the most influential cinema “agent provocateurs” of the era.
In 2005, Mr. Ebert was the featured speaker at our annual AFTRA/SAG Chicago Membership Meeting, an event that drew an unusually large crowd to our local union meeting. To the delight of all present, he even agreed to review a film made by a somewhat nervous student filmmaker and fellow union member. After reciting many verses of the song Talk Union, Mr. Ebert thanked the membership and noted that it was time for his portion of the meeting to end, but audience involvement prompted him to continue sharing his recollection of famous filmmaking moments, much to everyone’s delight.
Mr. Ebert often disagreed with Mr. Siskel as well as many of his contemporaries on films, but his eye for the medium was second to none, and usually proved to be spot on. He made all of us take a look at movies in a different way, and he inspired a generation of young people to enter the world of film critique. To call him influential would be to state the obvious.
We are truly left with a big hole from his loss. His eloquent writing and authoritative knowledge of cinema have no match, and his voice will never be replaced. SAG-AFTRA Chicago remembers Mr. Ebert fondly for his seminal contributions to our city, our industry and our country.