Thanks for Sharing, Roger

By John Gordon 04/05/13

Legendary film critic, screenwriter, author and recovering alcoholic Roger Ebert dies at 70.

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Ebert gave AA two thumbs up. Photo via

Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert died Thursday at age 70, after battling cancer for many years. Perhaps less widely acclaimed were his generous contributions to the recovery community. Ebert was 33 years sober when he died, and has written with insight and eloquence about his addiction, recovery, atheism and experience as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Ebert began his career as a film critic with the Sun-Times in 1967 but rose to national prominence in the '70s and '80s on such TV shows as Sneak Previews and At the Movies with Siskel and Ebert with Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel. Their trademarked “thumbs up/thumbs down” review summary has entered the lexicon. After Siskel died in 1999 Ebert partnered with Robert Roeper until 2006, when complications from thyroid cancer surgery left him unable to speak. Not to be silenced, Ebert took to the Internet and various forms of social media where he expanded his already staggeringly prolific body of work, which includes film criticism, social commentary and leftist political punditry.  

He also shared many intimate details of his ongoing cancer battle and personal life. Ebert quit drinking in 1979, and described his recovery with humor and candor in a 2009 blog post titled "My Name is Roger, and I'm an Alcoholic." "The problem with using will power, for me, was that it lasted only until my will persuaded me I could take another drink," he wrote.  In the post, he discussed his membership in Alcoholics Anonymous, defending AA against accusations of being a cult or a religion. “Nobody in AA cares how you understand [God]," he wrote, "The important thing is that you don't consider yourself to be your own Higher Power.”

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John Gordon is a freelance web designer and pub trivia host who is delighted to be living in Brooklyn again after a brief sojourn in the Pacific Northwest. He also is an avid long-distance runner who really needs to get on the stick and sign up for another marathon. You can find him on Linkedin.