Published On: Thu, Feb 20th, 2014

This Day in History: Famous film critic Gene Siskel passes away 15 years ago

Thumbs up and thumbs down will forever be in the lexicon of American moviegoers thanks to Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, a renowned pair of film critics.

Roger Ebert described this photo: "Our first "Sneak Previews" set: Not a very wide screen, and the fake rail supports are painted pop bottles"

Roger Ebert described this photo: “Our first “Sneak Previews” set: Not a very wide screen, and the fake rail supports are painted pop bottles”

Fifteen years ago today, February 20, 1999, Siskel died of complications from a surgery during his battle with a cancerous brain tumor.

Ebert paired with Gene in 1975 on a local PBS station and their “thumbs up, thumbs down” review of films would eventually morph into Sneak Previews, a nationwide analysis of the weekly flicks. This later evoled into the well known ‘Siskel and Ebert at the Movies’ which birthed the catchphrase ‘We’ll see you at the movies.’

The duo will agree and disagree on films, but always had engaging chemistry.

“Gene Siskel and I were like tuning forks. Strike one, and the other would pick up the same frequency. When we were in a group together, we were always intensely aware of one another. Sometimes this took the form of camaraderie, sometimes shared opinions, sometimes hostility,” Ebert wrote in an 2009 article titled ‘Remembering Gene.’

“People would ask, ‘Aren’t you those two guys?’ Once when we were on an elevator, some ladies started whispering to each other and when we got off, Gene looked back and said, ‘We’re those two guys.’”

Ebert passed away in 2013, writing his final blog post two days earlier: “So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I’ll see you at the movies.”


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  1. Roger Ebert passes away at 70, check out memorable comments on George Lucas, Rob Schneider and Crocodile Dundee - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] Remember Gene Siskel passing away – here […]

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