"Roger loved movies. They were his life."
That's part of what Steven Spielberg said this week about legendary film critic and Chicago icon Roger Ebert who passed away Thursday after a decade-long battle with cancer
For years and years, millions watched Ebert walk into the Chicago Theatre every week, thumb ready for his latest review. He wrote thousands of reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times and his work was even recognized with a journalist's highest honor, the Pulitzer Prize.
"He had a great generosity of spirit. He was generous in size, generous in style, and he had a generous heart," said Thea Flaum, the producer who first paired Ebert and Gene Siskel. "He was kind and thoughtful, he was always eager to look at the work of young new filmmakers and support what they were doing."
Siskel and Ebert's show became the highest-rated show in public television, and as they say in the movies, a star was born. Ebert quickly became a household name and many were rooting for him as he battled cancer.
The battle may be over, but Chicagoans will never forget.
“His movie reviews will endure, his writing about his illness will endure," Richard Roeper said, "and I just think more than anything else, the passion he brought to his work every day.”
“He was someone who was as respected as a journalist would be,” Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg said.
Ebert spent 46 years at the Sun-Times, and today the paper honored him with a special section devoted to his life and career.
When cancer took his voice several years ago, Ebert turned to blogging and social media, amassing nearly a million Twitter followers.
Many took to Twitter Thursday to react to the news of the icon's death, and his friends and colleagues have been passing their condolences to Ebert's wife, Chaz, and their family.
"Roger and Gene together again. End of an era," Oprah Winfrey tweeted.
It was Ebert who convinced Winfrey to go into syndication. It happened while the two were on a date right here in Chicago.
It's just more proof that his impact on so many lives is immeasurable.