TODAY   |  April 05, 2013

Roger Ebert, famous movie critic, dead at 70

The movies just won’t be the same without the famous movie critic Roger Ebert, who for nearly 40 years hosted movie-review TV shows, and wrote some of the most influential movie criticism while at the Chicago Sun-Times. Ebert died of thyroid cancer.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> and this morning, tributes are pouring in for legendary film critic roger ebert .

>> the 70-year-old lost his battle with cancer on thursday. natalie is back with more. you got a chance to speak with him.

>> i did, savannah. for nearly 30 years roger ebert hosted movie reviews on television with rival news critic gene siskel . i was lucky to visit his home in 2011 and it's a privilege li will long remember. for almost three decades, roger ebert and tv partner gene siskel gave their trademark thumbs up and thumbs down on "at the movies" making them household names.

>> thumbs up for me.

>> reporter: for ebert , movies weren't just his career, they were his passion. star on the hollywood walk of fame , the first film critic to win a pulitzer. in 2002 ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer which drastically changed his appearance and robbed him of his ability to talk. when we visited with him in 2011 he spoke through alex, his computer generated voice.

>> you did not know at the time you had tie 'roid cancer, that you would never be able to speak again. as you began to realize that, what went through your mind.

>> there was never a time when anyone told me i would never speak again. naturally, i felt awful, but i had to accept reality.

>> chaz, ebert 's wife of 20 years, says she is touched by the outpouring of support and love, calling his death quiet and dignified. always a realist, roger never let cancer get him down.

>> it's a waste of time feeling sorry for yourself because it doesn't change anything or help anything. you just have to keep on keeping on.

>> and he sure did. president obama issued a statement saying the movies won't be the same without roger and oprah tweeted roger and gene together again, end of an era . i asked him what he wanted his legacy to be when i met with him. he said i try to encourage moviegoers to think of every film as two hours of their lives and to consciously see films that will enhance them and not diminish them. actively watch.

>> he had this incredible soft side to him but boy if he didn't like a movie could he be blunt. let me read you 1987 "ishtar is a truly dreadful film, a lifeless, massive lumbering exercise in failed comedy. this movie is a long, dry slog. it's not funny. it's not smart, and it's interesting only in the way a traffic accident is interesting."

>> he had a sharp tongue. here's what he said about " battlefield earth ."

>> " battlefield earth is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time."

>> "every once in a while i have what i think of as an out of body experience in a movie. when the esp people use a phrase like that, they're referring to the sensation of the mind actually leaving the body and spiriting itself and the events of the movie seem real and i seem to be part of them."

>> " daily beast " put together a lot of the quotes and we took them from there.

>> what is fitting today "the " chicago tribune "" created this cartoon yesterday which as you see there with his partner, gene siskel , "saved you the aisle seat, roger."

>> our condolences to chaz and