College of Media | News

Roger Ebert dies at 70 after battle with cancer

4/8/2013  9:30 am


All of us in the College of Media are saddened by the passing of our dear friend and loyal alumnus, Roger Ebert.  The loss of this champion of film and journalism reverberates throughout the world.  But his roots are here at Illinois, and this is where his legacy will continue to grow.

The 15th annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival will go on as scheduled: April 17 – 21. Roger chose twelve films that we "must see" and thousands of his fans will gather in Champaign to do just that.

In 2009, Roger and his wife Chaz established the endowment for the Roger Ebert Program in Film Studies in the College of Media. 

Roger said at the time, "The University of Illinois is deep in my heart as a great institution. It informed and enriched me. Although there were no film courses when I was an undergraduate, it nevertheless guided me in my lifelong love of film. I hope when this Program and Center are fully realized, they will inspire new generations."

The Roger Ebert Program in Film Studies will house the annual film festival, as well as other programming throughout the year. You may support Roger's legacy and his love of movies by visiting the College of Media's giving site.  




All of us at Ebertfest are very saddened by the news of our dear friend Roger’s passing. He was a remarkable man who influenced journalists and film lovers the world over. The 15th annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival will take place as scheduled April 17-21.


Chicago Sun-Times


CHICAGO, April 4, 2013 -- Chaz Ebert issued the following statement Thursday about the passing of her husband, Roger Ebert, a day after he celebrated 46 years as a film critic:



“I am devastated by the loss of my love, Roger -- my husband, my friend, my confidante and oh-so-brilliant partner of over 20 years. He fought a courageous fight. I’ve lost the love of my life and the world has lost a visionary and a creative and generous spirit who touched so many people all over the world. We had a lovely, lovely life together, more beautiful and epic than a movie. It had its highs and the lows, but was always experienced with good humor, grace and a deep abiding love for each other.

“Roger was a beloved husband, stepfather to Sonia and Jay, and grandfather to Raven, Emil, Mark and Joseph. Just yesterday he was saying how his grandchildren were “the best things in my life.” He was happy and radiating satisfaction over the outpouring of responses to his blog about his 46th year as a film critic. But he was also getting tired of his fight with cancer, and said if this takes him, he has lived a great and full life.


“We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away. No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.


“We are touched by all the kindness and the outpouring of love we’ve received. And I want to echo what Roger said in his last blog, thank you for going on this journey with us.”



Chancellor Phyllis Wise:

“This is a sad day for all of us at the University of Illinois. Roger Ebert was a dear friend to this campus and a great ambassador for the university throughout his career. He truly changed the way we talk about film and how we think about art and media. Thanks to Roger, none of us will ever see a movie in the same way again.”


President Bob Easter:

“Roger’s award-winning career has shined the world’s spotlight on his alma mater and his hometown since 1967, when he penned his first movie review in the Chicago Sun-Times. He is a campus icon, and never lost touch with his roots in Central Illinois. His many achievements have brought us great pride, and his courage has given us inspiration.”



Office of the Press Secretary


April 4, 2013

Statement by the President on the Passing of Roger Ebert


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.  The movies won't be the same without Roger, and our thoughts and prayers are with Chaz and the rest of the Ebert family.