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I Miss Him: His Readers Remember Roger Ebert

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We asked the members of our Ebert Club to share their memories of Roger Ebert as part of our week or memorial content. The response was overwhelming, proving how beloved he still is around the world.

We want to thank everyone for submitting and if your response isn’t below, know that we still appreciated it and may use it in the future, but we received pages and pages of responses. It was truly touching. Here are a few of our favorites:

Roger Ebert’s work and philosophy have become part of who I am, and it’s impossible to separate his influence from anything I write—and, indeed, from a lot of what I do. He has enriched me immeasurably through his knowledge and empathy. He’s even introduced me to people I now call friends, which is about the best anyone can do. I miss him, but he remains present in so many of us. And there is still so much more to be done.—Barnaby Morris

More than any other movie critic that I have read, I got more out of Roger Ebert's reviews of movies. They provided me with an insight regardless of whether I agreed or disagreed with him. There are many movies out this past year that I wish I could have read his reviews from. That is our loss. Thank you. —Gary Boehm

I felt like I was getting movie reviews from a personal friend.  I have been lost without Roger. —Kathy Wagner

It doesn’t seem possible that Roger transitioned two years ago; his lovely wife Chaz keeps him alive forever in our hearts. Thank you, Chaz. Roger and I first met while working on The News-Gazette when he was in high school and I was in college and became lifelong friends. Eventually his mother worked with my father and babysat my daughter.  We shared many good times and conversations, always learning experiences for me. Years later when I took a job in Chicago, he introduced me to O’Rourke’s and many of his journalist friends. I miss him, don’t know what films to see any more without his guidance. Thanks for the tribute.—Betsy Hendrick

I’ve been a fan and devotee of Roger’s for over 40 years. I was probably 10 or 12 years old when I became aware of him; I believe in the early days he wrote a short synopsis and review of the week’s films showing on television in the Sun-Times ‘TV Prevue’ magazine, complete with star ratings (To this day I recall his one-word review of ‘The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao’: “Lao-sy”.). After he became the Sun-Times’ movie critic and then gained fame from his TV shows with Gene, I found myself following his advice more often than not when deciding on films. It seemed that his opinions really mattered, and his elegant, accessible writing style became world-renowned, with good reason. When he began his web site and blog in later years, I realized that without his guidance I would not know what to do when it came to determining a film’s worth. I also read with great interest his essays on any and all other topics, as he just seemed to have such life wisdom. Roger truly had a part in who I am today, and he is probably the closest thing I’ve had to a hero in my life. I miss him greatly, but thanks to his prolific body of work I still can enjoy him for years to come.—Mark Mikula

Roger Ebert was—and is—my hero. First of all, he was a beautiful writer. Secondly, he loved movies (even though he watched them for a living). His reviews were clear and straightforward, critically astute, and full of feeling. He was an enthusiast, as well as an insightful commentator—a rare combination in a critic. And finally, Roger is my hero for who he became in the last years of his life. When he lost his ability to speak, he found a new voice, reinventing himself in new media that allowed us to see him as more than a critic. Through his blog, he confronted illness and mortality—his own, and ours—with openness, vulnerability, and a clear-eyed strength that are all too rare in contemporary life. He was willing to share his insights with millions of readers—and he wrote to us as if he was writing to a friend. I didn't know Roger personally, but I feel like I did. Not a day goes by when I don't think of him—I wonder what he'd think of a certain film, or I remember his Esquire essay about appearances, or the piece that he wrote about the social aspects of dining. I miss him, and I carry him with me in so many ways.—Stacey Schmeidel

I never met Roger and yet few people have shaped the way I see the world the way Roger did. I became a professional film critic because of Roger. His writing taught me to think critically and thoughtfully about movies and life. It’s strange to owe so much to someone you never met but I do, I owe Roger Ebert more than I could ever repay him.—Sean Patrick Kernan

Roger Ebert was the complete package, a true renaissance man. He was so intelligent, and that is what I was mostly attracted to. His sense of humor was next on the amazing list! He was so funny. I loved it when he skewered the pretensions and arrogance of those who took themselves too seriously. He was humane and kind and everything a real man needs to be. Loved him and miss him greatly.  Can't even go to many movies anymore because I don't have Roger as my compass...—Carmen Chane

You cannot say too much to describe the impact Roger Ebert had on film criticism with his eloquent and insightful reviews. Having attended many of his film festivals, I have also had the great pleasure of hearing his boisterous laugh in the theater while watching a comedy. These are wonderful memories. However, the most meaningful thing that touched me personally from Roger had nothing to do with film. He wrote a commentary on what was happening about 12 years ago with our government and the issue of the Pledge of Allegiance and the separation of church and state. The column was on what he called the difference between "horizontal prayer" and "vertical prayer." He was able to articulate perfectly how I felt about certain members of our government that felt the need to make prayer a kind of assault on those who did not have the same beliefs or feelings about public displays of faith that they had. While this this was going on, I felt like a foreigner in my own country. Like an outcast. It was a profoundly moving experience to read an article that was able to eloquently articulate exactly how I felt. A few years later I had the opportunity to tell Roger how important that article was to me, and I'm so pleased that I had that opportunity and that I summoned the courage to tell him. For me, this column from Roger will always stand out as being the most moving and meaningful.—Diane Kennedy

When we saw Roger and Chaz at Times Talk in New York City, my wife and I were both taken with the devotion that Chaz showed to Roger. Very inspiring. I remember well the question asked by one of the attendees: Who is going to be the next Roger Ebert? He said, "Don't try to be the next Roger Ebert. Just be the best you."—James L.

I miss his humor most of all. I went to the movies more often because of him. Now, not so much. I know he will still be there when I want to check on a movie to see if he would recommend it. Roger you are thumbs up for me.—Marie

Many years ago I entered a contest to tell who you would like to meet in person. They "promised" to try to make that meeting possible for the winner. My entry was Roger Ebert. I hoped and prayed they would pick me. Needless to say, I didn't win, but I have followed Roger (and Gene) since their first days of TV movie reviews. Obviously it was sad when Gene passed, but very few days go by that I don't mourn Roger's passing more. I loved his blog—still do—and followed him on Twitter daily. Thanks to you ALL for keeping his wealth of knowledge and his persona alive.—Margaret

The first time I met Roger I was still attending film school in Chicago. It was the 1990s and he was appearing at a TV Academy Sweepstakes luncheon with Gene Siskel. As lunch ended I introduced myself to Roger and we talked for a few minutes. The subject of "Who's That Knocking at My Door" came up, and at one point Roger asked me what I thought of the film. Taken aback that my opinion would even be of interest to a major film critic, I eventually blurted out some of my own fragmented observations about the movie. The problem: I had readied myself for a celebrity encounter when I should have prepared myself for an intelligent exchange of ideas. It was a mistake I did not repeat in our future encounters. I will miss Roger for his sense of humor, and for his ability to engage just about anyone in just about any type of conversation.—Mario

The beauty, insight and truth held within Roger Ebert's writing inspired me not only in my fledgling journalism career but as a human being. His devotion to film came from his devotion to life and its many joys, heartbreaks and questions. And his best work weaved scholarly flourishes into an everyman sensibly: showing how the wonder of movies reaches into our souls.—Stover E. Harger III

I can honestly say I think of Roger almost daily. He was my 'go to' guy for the movies. Didn't always (but mostly) agree with him but I knew I would always get an intelligent well-crafted review. I still do check the website every week or two but it is not the same without Roger at the helm. The world seems a poorer place now, how we all who love the movies miss him! My caring thoughts go out to Chaz and extended family on this anniversary date of his sad passing.—Cathleen Hart

I miss Roger even more than I thought I would.  I never see a movie when I don't think, "What would Roger Ebert have thought of this?"—John Heck

The thing I remember most about Roger was his true love for movies, even "bad" ones. He seemed to find something redeeming in all movies. I could not understand how he could watch so many movies of all types with such a fresh approach. I have not found another reviewer to respect since his death. He is truly missed by all movie lovers.—Jean Middleton

Roger Ebert's were the first (and some of the only) movie reviews that went beyond just review and were an art form themselves. He made observations about the movies and about life that connected art with the human experience. And he never gave any spoilers. I felt like when he enjoyed a movie it deepened my enjoyment, and when he criticized a movie, it was just as valuable. I so much miss his insights and opinions.—Henry

Roger certainly changed our lives. We were lucky enough to call Roger our friend. We met through Roger's University of Chicago film class and took it together from 1980 through 2005, and were married in 1991. At Roger and Chaz's wedding, the year after ours, Roger said we had inspired him! Roger always loved that he brought us together, and we loved it too. He was a big part of our lives and we miss him so much.—Chuck and Eileen Kuenneth

In 2001, when “Apocalypse Now Redux” came out, I was in college with the opportunity to see it in the theater for the first time. I wrote to Roger with a question about the editing techniques used in the film, never expecting to hear back. Not only did he write back with an answer, that answer had branches, a list of other lesser-known artists whose work he thought I might enjoy, and another list of more films where I could see the methods I was curious about at work. With his memory I’m sure it didn’t take much time to rattle off that list, but it was surely more time than was convenient for him at the moment. I’ve never forgotten.—Holly Anderson

My memory of Mr. Ebert is actually the first childhood memory I have. It was 1979 or 1980 I was 2 or 3 years old and I was sitting on my dad's lap watching “Sneak Previews”. I don't remember the films that were discussed but I remember being transfixed by the scenes from the movies. After that I starting noticing movies more and more. I remember seeing commercials for films on TV and wondering what Roger would think of them. Years later I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Ebert on several occasions and even got a picture taken with him!—Charlie Kaus

I followed Roger's reviews starting from the time I saw him on the local PBS channel. He was our constant source for recommendations regarding movies. My wife and I also held him in great esteem for his humanist values as well. We still miss his insightful reviews and check them as needed for movies he reviewed before his death. Thanks for keeping his legacy alive.—Dave Helgager

From the first time I saw the TV program with Roger and Gene Siskel, I became a lifelong fan. I always felt like both were extremely knowledgeable about the components of the movies they reviewed from a technical standpoint, but also believed they were looking for movies to simply entertain them. After Gene's death, I continued to watch the shows that Roger was on, and starting reading his reviews online. His reviews in print were even more enjoyable than they were on TV because of the depth they provided. I always felt like Roger, even more so than Gene, was speaking directly to me, and I'm glad he became a part of my life.  My enjoyment of movies has definitely been enhanced by Roger's life's work, and the continuation of his work that "The Ebert Club" is providing.—Larry Cauble

Back in 2009, in his blog entry "The Blogs of My Blog," he included a mention of my site, "The Constant Viewer," even quoting in full one of the entries. That generous gesture inspired me to keep going with the project—an "imaginary diary" that begins in 1876 and makes its way to the present, covering close to 700 films. I've since self-published it as an ebook, which of course features Roger prominently in its dedication page. His unflagging dedication to film culture makes him our spiritual Godfather, and the ideal he offers—film writing that is not only thoughtful but joyful and humane—is a promise none of us can refuse.—Paul J. Marasa

As a producer and now first-time screenwriter I have collected hundreds of Roger Ebert's reviews. They are my main references to analyze and evaluate movies. His unique competence to write reviews not only in such a sophisticated but also original and humorous way turns them into film lessons and entertainment as well. It would have been a huge honor to receive a review by Roger Ebert for our first feature production. Nonetheless I am glad that his legacy is so well and faithfully continued by your great alliance of contributors. Thank you!—Marcel Meier

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