Legendary film critic Roger Ebert died of cancer today. He was 70. To say he will be missed is an understatement.
The Chicago Sun Times — where Ebert was a contributor for 46 years — has a good obituary detailing his myriad accomplishments (he was the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize!), but scores of people who aren't mega movie buffs also knew who he was thanks to his huge online following. Ebert used the internet to strengthen his voice after he lost his own (through surgery on his salivary gland); rogerebert.com had millions of fans, he had hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter and he was the 2010 "Person of the Year" from the Webby Awards, which noted that "his online journal has raised the bar for the level of poignancy, thoughtfulness and critique one can achieve on the Web."
Of course, Ebert was best-known for writing about movies. Here are some of his most damning zingers about movies he hated, like "Going to see Godzilla at the Palais of the Cannes Film Festival is like attending a satanic ritual in St. Peter's Basilica" and "This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels." (Freddy Got Fingered.)
But Ebert often wrote eloquently about other subjects, including his his long struggle with illness and impending death.
I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting. My lifetime's memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.
(Esquire's profile is also definitely worth a read, although you apparently can't read the whole thing online for free anymore.)