Roger Joseph Ebert was born on June 18, 1942 in Urbana, Illinois. He attended Urbana High School where he was editor of the school’s newspaper, The Echo
, and was also a sportswriter for The News-Gazette
in Champaign, Illinois. He even won the "Illinois High School Association State Speech Championship in Radio Speaking" in 1958.
Ebert attended University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While earning his degree there, he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, and was also the editor of The Daily Illini
. He went to the University of Cape Town to do his graduate studies in English, with the assistance of a Rotary International Fellowship. He began his doctoral program in English at the University of Chicago but never finished the degree, because he was offered the job of film critic at the Sun-Times
, and decided not to pass up that opportunity.
In 1976 Ebert began hosting a weekly movie review television show with Gene Siskel
of the Chicago Tribune
. The show, called Sneak Previews
, was soon broadcast nationally by PBS. They began their syndicated show, At the Movies
, in 1982, and later began their “thumbs up, thumbs down” rating system and changed the title to Siskel & Ebert & The Movies
. When Siskel passed away and Richard Roeper became Ebert's new show partner, the title of the show changed to Ebert & Roeper & the Movies
In addition to being a critic, Ebert co-wrote the screenplay for the film, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
, and also teaches a film class occasionally at the University of Chicago. Ebert was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in June of 2005.
Recently, Ebert has had some serious health issues, undergoing surgeries to treat cancers of the thyroid and salivary glands, though he continues to work whenever he is able.
Ebert has been married to Chaz Hammelsmith, a trial attorney, since 1993. He has one step-daughter and three step-grandchildren.