Joel Siegel, a longtime movie critic for WABC-TV and “Good Morning America” who racked up five New York Emmy Awards for his insightful work, died Friday, the television station said. He was 63.
The station said Siegel, who was famous for his weekly reviews, had been battling colon cancer.
“Joel was an important part of ABC News and we will miss him,” ABC News President David Westin said in a release. “He was a brilliant reviewer and a great reporter. But much more, he was our dear friend and colleague. Our thoughts and prayers are with Joel’s family.”
Siegel was known for his sense of humor, movie acumen and sharp judgment. He never let an actor off the hook if the performance was lackluster.
“The appeal of Matthew McConaughey has long evaded me both as a pinup and as an actor,” Siegel opined in his review of “We Are Marshall,” a 2006 film. “His constant ticks, bad hair and strained syntax as a coach fumble what should have been the tragic and inspirational story of the rebuilding of Marshall University’s football team after a devastating plane crash.”
Dave Davis, president and general manager of WABC-TV, said Siegel loved to poke fun at uninspiring movies.
“No one had more fun writing about a bad movie than Joel,” Davis said.
ABC anchor Charles Gibson said Siegel knew how to tell a story.
“He had an inexhaustible supply of stories — most funny, many poignant, all with a point or a punch line,” Gibson said.
Born in Los Angeles on July 7, 1943, Siegel graduated cum laude from UCLA. After college, he started writing for The Los Angeles Times, where he reviewed books.
He landed in New York City in 1972 and worked as a reporter for WCBS-TV. He also hosted “Joel Siegel’s New York” on WCBS Radio. Four years later he jumped to WABC-TV, cementing his reputation as a film critic over the next three decades.
In 1981, he joined “Good Morning America” and became a regular as the network’s entertainment editor, easily recognizable by his thick mustache and glasses.
In addition to Emmy Awards, he also received a public-service award from the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith; and the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association Award for general excellence in individual reporting.
Siegel was the author of "Lessons for Dylan: From Father to Son," a book written for the late-in-life child he wasn't sure he'd ever see born. Siegel found out he was going to be a father at age 54, just two weeks after receiving his cancer diagnosis. Dylan, who was conceived via in vitro fertilization, was born in February 1998.
He is survived by his son, Dylan, and wife, Ena Swansea.