Gene Siskel

Last updated

Gene Siskel
Gene Siskel at the 61st Academy Awards cropped.jpg
Siskel at the 61st Academy Awards in 1989
Eugene Kal Siskel

(1946-01-26)January 26, 1946
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedFebruary 20, 1999(1999-02-20) (aged 53)
Resting place Westlawn Cemetery
Education Yale University (BA)
  • Television journalist
  • film critic
Years active1969–1999
Notable credit(s) Opening Soon at a Theater Near You (1975–1977)
Sneak Previews (1977–1982)
At the Movies (1982–1986)
Siskel & Ebert (1986–1999)
CBS This Morning (1990–1996)
Good Morning America (1996–1999)
Marlene Iglitzen
(m. 1980)

Eugene Kal Siskel (January 26, 1946 – February 20, 1999) was an American film critic and journalist for the Chicago Tribune . He is best known for co-hosting various movie review television series with colleague Roger Ebert. [1]


Siskel started writing for the Chicago Tribune in 1969, becoming its film critic soon after. In 1975, he was paired with Roger Ebert to co-host a monthly show called Opening Soon at a Theater Near You airing locally on PBS member station WTTW. [2] In 1978, the show, renamed Sneak Previews , was expanded to weekly episodes and aired on PBS affiliates all around the United States. [2] In 1982, Siskel and Ebert both left Sneak Previews to create the syndicated show At the Movies . [2] Following a contract dispute with Tribune Entertainment in 1986, Siskel and Ebert signed with Buena Vista Television, creating Siskel & Ebert & the Movies (renamed Siskel & Ebert in 1987, and renamed again several times after Siskel's death). [2]

Known for their biting wit, intense professional rivalry, heated arguments, and their trademark "Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down" movie ratings system, Siskel and Ebert became celebrated in American pop culture. [3] [4] Siskel was diagnosed with brain cancer in May 1998, but remained in the public eye as Ebert's professional partner until his death the following year. [1]

Early life

Siskel was born in Chicago on January 26, 1946, the youngest of three children born to Ida (née Kalis) and Nathan William Siskel, who were Russian Jewish immigrants. [5] [6] His father died when he was four and mother died when he was nine; thereafter, he was raised by his aunt and uncle. [7] He attended Culver Academies, where he experienced anti-Semitism firsthand when a schoolmate gave him a piece of toast on which jam was spread in the shape of a swastika. [8]

Siskel graduated from Yale University with a degree in philosophy in 1967. While at Yale, Siskel was classmates with poet Paul Monette and future New York Governor George Pataki. [9] Siskel studied writing under Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Hersey, whose reference would later help Siskel get a job at the Chicago Tribune in 1969. [10]



Siskel's first print review, written one month before he became the Tribune's film critic, was for the film Rascal . [11] [12] His review of the film was not favorable ("Because of the excessive gimmickry, most kids will miss the tenderness," he wrote). [11] [12] Prior to this, he served in the U.S. Army Reserve; he was a military journalist and public affairs officer for the Defense Information School. [13] For a time afterwards, he was acquainted with Playboy magazine publisher Hugh Hefner. [14]

In 1986, the Chicago Tribune announced that Siskel was no longer the paper's film critic, and that his position with the paper had been shifted from that of a full-time film critic to that of a freelance contract writer who was to write about the film industry for the Sunday paper and also provide capsule film reviews for the paper's entertainment sections. [15] The demotion occurred after Siskel and Ebert decided to shift production of their weekly movie-review show, then known as At the Movies (later known as Siskel & Ebert ), from Tribune Entertainment to the Walt Disney Company's Buena Vista Television unit. Editor James Squires stated on the move, "He's done a great job for us. It's a question of how much a person can do physically. We think you need to be a newspaper person first, and Gene Siskel always tried to do that. But there comes a point when a career is so big that you can't do that." Siskel declined to comment on the new arrangement, but Ebert publicly criticized Siskel's Tribune bosses for punishing Siskel for taking their television program to a company other than Tribune Entertainment. [16] Ebert privately suggested that Siskel join him at the Chicago Sun-Times , but Siskel remained a freelancer for the Tribune until his death in 1999. [17] He was replaced as film critic by Dave Kehr. [18]

The last review published by Siskel for the Chicago Tribune was for the film She's All That , published on January 29, 1999, in which he gave a favorable review, giving it three stars out of four and wrote that "Rachael Leigh Cook as Laney, the plain Jane object of the makeover, is forced to demonstrate the biggest emotional range as a character, and she is equal to the assignment. I look forward to seeing her in her next movie." [11] [19]

Siskel & Ebert

In 1975, Siskel teamed up with Ebert, film reviewer for the Chicago Sun-Times , to host a show on local Chicago PBS station WTTW which eventually became Sneak Previews . [2] Their "thumbs-up, thumbs-down" system soon became an easily recognizable trademark, [2] [3] [4] popular enough to be parodied on comedy shows such as Second City Television , In Living Color , Bizarre , and in movies such as Hollywood Shuffle and Godzilla . [20] Sneak Previews gained a nationwide audience in 1977 when WTTW offered it as a series to the PBS program system. [2]

Siskel and Ebert left WTTW and PBS in 1982 for syndication. [2] Their new show, At the Movies, was produced and distributed by Tribune Broadcasting, the parent company of the Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV. [2] Sneak Previews continued on PBS for 14 more years with other hosts until its cancellation in 1996. [2] In 1986, Siskel and Ebert left Tribune Broadcasting to have their show produced by the syndication arm of the Walt Disney Company. [2] The new incarnation of the show was originally titled Siskel & Ebert & the Movies, but later shortened to Siskel & Ebert. [2] At the Movies also continued for a few more years with other hosts until its cancellation in 1990. [2]

The last five movies Siskel reviewed with Ebert on the show before his death aired during the weekend of January 23–24, 1999. On the show, they reviewed At First Sight , Another Day in Paradise , The Hi-Lo Country , Playing by Heart , and The Theory of Flight . [21] Siskel gave thumbs up to all of them, except for Playing by Heart. [21]

Following Siskel's death, Ebert continued the series with rotating guest hosts, which included Martin Scorsese, [22] Janet Maslin, Peter Bogdanovich, Todd McCarthy, Lisa Schwarzbaum, Kenneth Turan. Elvis Mitchell, and the eventual replacement for Siskel, Richard Roeper. [23] [24] [25]

Film and TV appearances

Siskel and Ebert were known for their many appearances on late-night talk shows, including appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman sixteen times and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson fifteen times. They also appeared together on The Oprah Winfrey Show , The Arsenio Hall Show , Howard Stern , The Tonight Show with Jay Leno , and Late Night with Conan O'Brien .

In 1982, 1983, and 1985, Siskel, along with Ebert, appeared as themselves on Saturday Night Live . [26] [27] For their first two appearances, they reviewed sketches from that night's telecast and reviewed sketches from the "SNL Film Festival" for their last appearance. [28]

In 1991, Siskel, along with Ebert, appeared in a segment on the children's television series Sesame Street entitled "Sneak Peak Previews" (a parody of Sneak Previews ). [29] In the segment, the critics instruct the hosts Oscar the Grouch and Telly Monster on how their thumbs up/thumbs down rating system works. [29] Oscar asks if there could be a thumbs sideways ratings, and goads the two men into an argument about whether or not that would be acceptable, as Ebert likes the idea, but Siskel does not. [29] The two were also seen that same year in the show's celebrity version of "Monster in the Mirror". [30]

In 1993, Siskel appeared as himself in an episode of The Larry Sanders Show entitled "Off Camera". [31] Entertainment Weekly chose his performance as one of the great scenes in that year's television. [32]

In 1995, Siskel and Ebert guest-starred on an episode of the animated TV series The Critic entitled "Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice". [33] In the episode, Siskel and Ebert split and each wants protagonist Jay Sherman, a fellow movie critic, as his new partner. [33] The episode is a parody of the film Sleepless in Seattle . [33]

An early appearance of Siskel, taken from Opening Soon at a Theater Near You , the predecessor to Sneak Previews, is included in the 2009 documentary film, For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism . [34] In the film, he is seen debating with Ebert over the merits of the film version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest . [34]

Critical style

Gene Siskel had an abrasive review style, and claimed his film criticism was an individual exercise that should not be swayed by public taste. In an interview for the Academy of Television and Radio, his TV co-host said of him, "I think Gene felt that he had to like the whole picture to give it a thumbs up." [35]

In particular, he often gave negative reviews to films that became box office champs and went on to be considered mainstream classics: Poltergeist , [36] Scarface , [37] Beverly Hills Cop , [38] The Terminator , Aliens , Predator , Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade , Thelma & Louise , and Independence Day . This even extended to several films that went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture: The Silence of the Lambs [11] [39] and Unforgiven .

Yet, Ebert also noted in a memoriam episode of Siskel and Ebert that when Siskel found a movie that he truly treasured, he embraced it as something special. Directly addressing his late colleague, Ebert said: "I know for sure that seeing a truly great movie made you so happy that you'd tell me a week later your spirits were still high." [40] Some of Siskel's most treasured movies included My Dinner with Andre (1981), [41] Shoah (1985), Fargo (1996), and the documentary Hoop Dreams (1994). [42]



One of Siskel's favorite films was Saturday Night Fever ; [43] he even bought the famous white disco suit that John Travolta wore in the film from a charity auction. [44] Another all-time favorite was Dr. Strangelove . [45] [46] A favorite from childhood was Dumbo , [47] which he often mentioned as the first film that had an influence on him. [40] [48] [49]

Best films of the year

Siskel compiled "best of the year" film lists from 1969 to 1998, which helped to provide an overview of his critical preferences. [50] [51] His top choices were:

From 1969 until his death in February 1999, he and Ebert were in agreement on nine annual top selections: Z, The Godfather, Nashville, The Right Stuff, Do the Right Thing, Goodfellas, Schindler's List, Hoop Dreams, and Fargo. There would have been a tenth, but Ebert declined to rank the 9+12-hour documentary Shoah as 1985's best film because he felt it was inappropriate to compare it to the rest of the year's candidates. [66] Six times, Siskel's number one choice did not appear on Ebert's top ten list at all: Straight Time, Ragtime, Once Upon a Time in America, The Last Temptation of Christ, Hearts of Darkness, and The Ice Storm. Six times, Ebert's top selection did not appear on Siskel's; these films were 3 Women , An Unmarried Woman , Apocalypse Now , Sophie's Choice , Mississippi Burning , and Dark City . [50]

Personal life

In 1980, Siskel married Marlene Iglitzen, who was then a producer for CBS in New York. They had two daughters, Kate and Callie, and a son, Will. Their daughters graduated from Siskel's alma mater, Yale University. [67]

Illness and death

Siskel was diagnosed with a malignant, terminal brain tumor on May 8, 1998. [68] [69] He underwent brain surgery three days later. [70] [71] For a few weeks during his recovery, he participated on Siskel & Ebert by telephone, calling in from his hospital bed while Ebert appeared in the studio. [72] [73] [74] Siskel did not disclose the severity of his illness to anyone outside of his family; publicly, he said that the surgery removed an unspecified "growth" on his brain, and that he was recovering well. [75] He eventually returned to the studio, but was noted to appear more lethargic and mellow than usual. [76] On February 3, 1999, he announced that he was taking a leave of absence from the show, but that he expected to be back by the fall, stating, "I'm in a hurry to get well because I don't want Roger to get more screen time than I." [10]

Siskel died at a hospital in Evanston, Illinois, on February 20, 1999, nine months after his diagnosis and surgery; he was 53 years old. [10] [77] His funeral was held two days later at the North Suburban Synagogue Beth El. [7] [46] He is interred at Westlawn Cemetery in Norridge, Illinois. [78] [79]


Siskel was a Chicago sports fan, especially of his hometown basketball team, the Chicago Bulls, and would cover locker-room celebrations for WBBM-TV news broadcasts following Bulls championships in the 1990s. [40]

The Gene Siskel Film Center at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois Gene Siskel Film Center (51574651316).jpg
The Gene Siskel Film Center at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Siskel was also a member of the advisory committee of the Film Center at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a strong supporter of the Film Center mission. [80] He wrote hundreds of articles applauding the Film Center's distinctive programming and lent the power of his position as a well-known film critic to urge public funding and audience support. [80] In 2000, the Film Center was renamed The Gene Siskel Film Center in his honor. [80]

Only once during his long association with Ebert did Siskel ever change his vote on a movie during the review. He initially gave the film Broken Arrow a "thumbs up", but after hearing Ebert's criticism, Siskel changed his mind to "thumbs down". [81] [82] However, he had changed his opinions on films years after his initial reviews, as with Tremors , which he gave a negative review to in 1990 [83] but later gave a glowing positive review in 1994, stating, "I wasn't sure what I missed the first time around, but it just didn't click." [84]

Siskel said that he walked out on three films during his professional career: the 1971 comedy The Million Dollar Duck starring Dean Jones, the 1980 horror film Maniac , and the 1996 Penelope Spheeris film Black Sheep . [45] [85] When he mentioned walking out on Black Sheep in 1996, he said it was the first time he walked out on a movie he was reviewing since Million Dollar Duck in 1971; he later explained that he did not include Maniac because he did not review Maniac as an assignment for his newspaper or part of his and Ebert's weekly TV reviews but only as a "Dog of the Week", a feature of the TV show in which each critic would single out the very worst movie they had seen that week. [81]

Both critics had specific sensitivities and feelings that would often vary in extremes to certain kinds of bad films. [2] [86] [87] Ebert was very sensitive to films about race and ethnicity; Siskel was sensitive to films about families and family relationships, and had a special hatred for films like House Arrest (1996) and Like Father Like Son (1987), both of which were about parents and their children. [88] [89] [90]

Following Siskel's death in 1999, Ebert wrote:

Gene was a lifelong friend, and our professional competition only strengthened that bond. I can't even imagine what will it be like without him. ...As a critic, Siskel was passionate and exacting. I think it was important to Gene that this was the only serious film criticism on television. That made him proud. We had a lot of big fights. We were people who came together one day a week and, the other six days, we were competitors on two daily newspapers and two different television stations. So there was a lot of competition and a lot of disagreement. [91]

Ebert once said of his relationship with Siskel:

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. [92] [93]

When both men appeared together on The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers , Joan Rivers conducted a "together and separately" interview with them, which at one point had each of them wear Walkman-style headphones, playing loud music, while the other commented on his partner. [94] When asked what he thought was the biggest difference between himself and Ebert, Siskel unhesitatingly replied: "I'm a better reviewer than he is", but a few moments later, he said that anyone who read an Ebert review would read "an extremely well-written review". [94]

At the 1999 Academy Awards ceremony, after its in memoriam montage of deceased stars and film contributors (which did not include Siskel), host Whoopi Goldberg gave a brief impromptu tribute to Siskel:

I want to take a moment to acknowledge someone we lost too recently to include in our film tribute. He wasn't a filmmaker, but he definitely was a member of our film community. Now he clobbered some of us with a great big stick and sometimes he touched us with a velvet glove. I'm talking about Gene Siskel. He was a critic but more importantly, he really loved movies, so, Gene, wherever you are, honey, here's to you. [95]

She included the iconic "thumbs-up" gesture; it received a great round of audience applause. [95]


1975-1982 Sneak Previews Host148 episodes
1982-1985 Saturday Night Live Himself3 episodes
1982-1986 At the Movies Host156 episodes
1982-1993 Late Night with David Letterman Guest15 episodes
1983-1995 ABC News Nightline Himself3 episodes
1985-1992 The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Guest15 episodes
1986 The Late Show Himself1 episode
Nightlife 1 episode
Hour Magazine1 episode
1986-1999 At the Movies Host597 episodes
1987 Rated K: For Kids by Kids GuestEpisode: "Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert"
1987-1993Siskel & Ebert Holiday Gift GuideHost7 episodes
1988 48 Hours Film CriticEpisode: "In Hollywood"
1988-1996 The Oprah Winfrey Show Movie Critic3 episodes
1989The Siskel & Ebert 500th Anniversary SpecialHost
1989-1993 The Arsenio Hall Show Himself3 episodes
1990Siskel & Ebert: The Future of the Movies Host
Moving PicturesHimself1 episode
1991 Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake
Sesame Street: Monster in the Mirror
The Howard Stern Show Episode: "Siskel & Ebert"
The Best of Disney: 50 Years of Magic
Siskel & Ebert: Actors on Acting
A Comedy Salute to Michael Jordan
1992 Sesame Street Episode: "An African Lullaby by Lillian"
Diamonds on the Silver Screen
Hoffa: Siskel and Ebert
1992-1998 The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Guest11 episodes
1993 Bob Hope: The First 90 YearsHimself
Sesame Street Jam: A Musical Celebration
The Larry Sanders Show Episode: "Off Camera"
1994 Bill Nye the Science Guy Episode: "Eyeballs"
Investigative Reports Media CriticEpisode: "Prime Time Violence"
The 31st Annual Publicist Guild of America AwardsHimself
The 10th TV Academy Hall of Fame
1995 The Critic Episode: "Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice"
1995-1997Howard Stern3 episodes
1996 Biography Episode: "Arnold Schwarzenegger: Flex Appeal"
60 Minutes Movie CriticEpisode: "Easy Money in Hard Times/The Mormons/Spike Lee"
The Siskel & Ebert InterviewsInterviewee
1997 Late Night with Conan O'Brien GuestEpisode: "Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert/Jeffrey Ross"
1998The Sport JerksHimself
AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies: America's Greatest Movies
Chicago Filmmakers on the Chicago River
Chicago Tonight GuestEpisode: "Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert"
1999Television: The First Fifty YearsInterviewee


See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roger Ebert</span> American film critic and author (1942–2013)

Roger Joseph Ebert was an American film critic, film historian, journalist, essayist, screenwriter, and author. He was a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. Ebert was known for his intimate, Midwestern writing voice and critical views informed by values of populism and humanism. Writing in a prose style intended to be entertaining and direct, he made sophisticated cinematic and analytical ideas more accessible to non-specialist audiences. Ebert frequently endorsed foreign and independent films he believed would be appreciated by mainstream viewers, which often resulted in such films receiving greater exposure. In 1975, Ebert became the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times said Ebert "was without question the nation's most prominent and influential film critic," and Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called him "the best-known film critic in America."

WTTW is a PBS member television station in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Owned by not-for-profit broadcaster Window to the World Communications, Inc., it is sister to commercial classical music radio station WFMT. The two stations share studios in the Renée Crown Public Media Center, located at 5400 North Saint Louis Avenue in the city's North Park neighborhood; its transmitter facility is atop the Willis Tower on South Wacker Drive in the Chicago Loop. WTTW also owns and operates The Chicago Production Center, a video production and editing facility that is operated alongside the two stations.

<i>Hoop Dreams</i> 1994 American documentary film

Hoop Dreams is a 1994 American documentary film directed by Steve James, and produced by Frederick Marx, James, and Peter Gilbert, with Kartemquin Films. It follows the story of two African-American high school students, William Gates and Arthur Agee, in Chicago and their dream of becoming professional basketball players.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Richard Roeper</span> American writer and film critic (born 1959)

Richard E. Roeper is an American columnist and film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. He co-hosted the television series At the Movies with Roger Ebert from 2000 to 2008, serving as the late Gene Siskel's successor. From 2010 to 2014, he co-hosted The Roe and Roeper Show with Roe Conn on WLS-AM. From October 2015 to October 2017, Roeper served as the host of the FOX 32 morning show Good Day Chicago.

<i>Day for Night</i> (film) 1973 film by François Truffaut

Day for Night is a 1973 romantic comedy-drama film co-written and directed by François Truffaut. The metafictional and self-reflexive film chronicles the troubled production of a melodrama, and the various personal and professional challenges of the cast and crew. It stars Jacqueline Bisset, Valentina Cortese, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Dani, Alexandra Stewart, Jean-Pierre Léaud and Truffaut himself.

<i>At the Movies</i> (1986 TV program) Movie review television program

At the Movies is an American movie review television program produced by Disney–ABC Domestic Television in which two film critics share their opinions of newly released films. Its original hosts were Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, the former hosts of Sneak Previews on PBS (1975–1982) and a similarly titled syndicated series (1982–1986). Following Siskel's death in 1999, Ebert worked with various guest critics until choosing Chicago Sun-Times colleague Richard Roeper as his regular partner in 2000.

Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, collectively known as Siskel & Ebert, were American film critics known for their partnership on television lasting from 1975 to Siskel's death in 1999.

<i>Magic</i> (1978 film) 1978 American psychological horror film by Richard Attenborough

Magic is a 1978 American psychological horror drama film directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margret and Burgess Meredith. The screenplay is by William Goldman, who adapted his novel of the same title. The score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith.

<i>Playing by Heart</i> 1998 American comedy-drama film directed by Willard Carroll

Playing by Heart is a 1998 American comedy-drama film which tells the story of several seemingly unconnected characters. It was entered into the 49th Berlin International Film Festival. It stars Gillian Anderson, Ellen Burstyn, Sean Connery, Anthony Edwards, Angelina Jolie, Jay Mohr, Ryan Phillippe, Dennis Quaid, Gena Rowlands, Jon Stewart and Madeleine Stowe. Playing by Heart is an ensemble work that explores the path of love in its characters’ lives.

<i>The Theory of Flight</i> 1998 British film

The Theory of Flight is a 1998 British comedy-drama film directed by Paul Greengrass from a screenplay written by Richard Hawkins. It stars Helena Bonham Carter and Kenneth Branagh.

<i>Sneak Previews</i> American film review television series

Sneak Previews is an American film review show that ran for over two decades on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). It was created by WTTW, a PBS member station in Chicago, Illinois. It premiered on November 26, 1975 as a monthly local-only show called Opening a Theater Near You and was renamed in 1977 to Sneak Previews and it became a biweekly show in 1978 airing nationally on PBS. It grew to prominence with a review-conversation-banter format between opinionated film critics, notably for a time, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. By 1980, it was a weekly series airing on over 180 stations, and it was the highest rated weekly entertainment series in the history of public broadcasting. The show's final broadcast was on October 4, 1996.

Michael Phillips is an American film critic for the Chicago Tribune newspaper.

<i>Just You and Me, Kid</i> 1979 film by Leonard B. Stern

Just You and Me, Kid is a 1979 American comedy film starring George Burns, Brooke Shields, Lorraine Gary, Ray Bolger, Leon Ames, Carl Ballantine, Keye Luke and Burl Ives. It was directed by Leonard B. Stern and was released in July 1979 by Columbia Pictures.

<i>Simon</i> (1980 film) 1980 film by Marshall Brickman

Simon is a 1980 American comedy film written and directed by Marshall Brickman and starring Alan Arkin.

<i>At the Movies</i> (1982 TV program) American film review television series

At the Movies is an American movie review television program that aired from 1982 to 1990. It was produced by Tribune Entertainment and was created by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert when they left their show Sneak Previews, which they began on Chicago's PBS station, WTTW, in 1975.

<i>Ebert Presents: At the Movies</i> 2011 television series involving film reviews

Ebert Presents: At the Movies is a weekly, nationally syndicated movie review television program produced by film critic Roger Ebert and his wife, Chaz Ebert. The program aired on public television stations in the United States through American Public Television from January 21 to December 30, 2011.

Ignatiy Igorevich Vishnevetsky is a Russian-American film critic, essayist, and columnist. He has worked as a staff film critic for The A.V. Club and written for and the Chicago Reader.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thea Flaum</span> American television producer

Thea Flaum is an American television producer best known as the creator of Sneak Previews, the movie review show featuring Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. She is currently the president of the Hill Foundation for Families Living with Disabilities, a non-profit organization founded by Flaum and her husband, Robert A. Hill.

<i>Life Itself</i> (2014 film) 2014 American film

Life Itself is a 2014 American biographical documentary film about Chicago film critic Roger Ebert, directed by Steve James and produced by Zak Piper, James and Garrett Basch. The film is based on Ebert's 2011 memoir of the same name. It premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was an official selection at the 67th Cannes Film Festival. The 41st Telluride Film Festival hosted a special screening of the film on August 28, 2014. Magnolia Pictures released the film theatrically in the United States and simultaneously via video on demand platforms on July 4, 2014.


  1. 1 2 Johnson, Steve (February 22, 1999). "'..?..& Ebert': The show must go on". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved June 28, 2022 via
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Steinberg, Joel. "Siskel and Ebert". Museum of Broadcast Communications . Archived from the original on December 4, 2010. Retrieved May 2, 2022.
  3. 1 2 Gliatto, Tom (November 1, 1999). "Despite the Loss of Film-Critic Buddy Gene Siskel, Roger Ebert Gives Life a Thumbs Up". People . Archived from the original on February 5, 2009. Retrieved May 2, 2022.
  4. 1 2 Bloom, Julie (July 22, 2008). "Ebert and Roeper No Longer At the Movies". The New York Times. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  5. Kogan, Rick (February 21, 1999). "He Changed the Way We Look at Movies". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  6. Singer 2023, p. 40.
  7. 1 2 Kogan, Rick (February 23, 1999). "Farewell to Siskel honors private side of public man". Chicago Tribune.
  8. "Siskel & Ebert - School Ties Review". YouTube .
  9. "Mission Statement".
  10. 1 2 3 McG Thomas, Robert Jr. (February 21, 1999). "Gene Siskel, Half of a Famed Movie-Review Team, Dies at 53". The New York Times. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  11. 1 2 3 4 Siskel, Gene (October 15, 1999). "The Movie Reviews". Chicago Tribune . Archived from the original on September 16, 2018. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  12. 1 2 Siskel, Gene (August 5, 1969). "The Disney Version of Rascal". Chicago Tribune . p. 5 via
  13. Sawyers, June Skinner (2012). Chicago Portraits (updated ed.). Northwestern University Press. p. 282.
  14. Manning, Sean (June 30, 2014). "Siskel & Ebert: Secret Ladies Man". Esquire . Retrieved May 2, 2022.
  15. Siskel, Gene (July 2, 1986). "Complex 'Mona Lisa' spellbinding". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved July 1, 2022 via
  16. "Film critic comes to defense of rival Siskel". The Bulletin. April 22, 1986. Retrieved July 1, 2022.[ permanent dead link ]
  17. Singer 2023, p. 175.
  18. Michael Miner (May 21, 1993). "Reader Archive-Extract: 1993/930521/HOTTYPE". Retrieved July 1, 2022.[ permanent dead link ]
  19. Siskel, Gene (January 29, 1999). "'She's All That' a refreshing 'My Fair Lady'". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved July 1, 2022.
  20. Ebert, Roger (May 26, 1998). "Godzilla (1998) Movie Review & Film Summary" . Retrieved May 2, 2022.
  21. 1 2 "At First Sight, Another Day in Paradise, The Hi-Lo Country, Playing by Heart, The Theory of Flight, 1999". Siskel And Ebert Movie Reviews. Retrieved July 1, 2022.
  22. Ebert & Roeper (February 27, 2000). "Best Films of the 90s".
  23. "Columnist to become foil to Roger Ebert". Tampa Bay Times. July 14, 2000. Retrieved July 1, 2022 via
  25. Singer 2023, pp. 235–236.
  26. "Chevy Chase". Saturday Night Live . Season 8. Episode 1. September 25, 1982.
  27. "Brandon Tartikoff". Saturday Night Live . Season 9. Episode 1. October 8, 1983.
  28. Blevins, Joe (November 18, 2015). "The Night Siskel and Ebert Took Over 'SNL'". Vulture. Retrieved July 1, 2022.
  29. 1 2 3 Sesame Street – "Sneak Peak Previews" with SISKEL & EBERT
  30. Sesame Street – Monster in the Mirror (celebrity version)
  31. "Off Camera". The Larry Sanders Show . Season 2. Episode 16. September 15, 1993.
  32. Siskel & Ebert Collection on Letterman, Part 4 of 6: 1994, archived from the original on November 16, 2021, retrieved September 5, 2021{{citation}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  33. 1 2 3 "The Critic (cartoon) with the Voices of Gene and Roger, 1995". Siskel And Ebert Movie Reviews. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  34. 1 2 "For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism (2009) – Overview –". Turner Classic Movies.
  35. Rutkowski, Gary (November 2, 2005). "Roger Ebert: Television Academy Interviews". The Academy of Television and Radio. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  36. Siskel, Gene (June 4, 1982). "As a screamer, 'Poltergeist' is mute". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved July 1, 2022 via
  37. Siskel, Gene (December 9, 1983). "Pacino's 'Scarface' does have a redeeming feature: It ends". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved November 3, 2022.
  38. Siskel, Gene (December 5, 1984). "Eddie Murphy's 'Cop' bad mix of comedy, violence". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved May 18, 2022 via
  39. Siskel, Gene (February 15, 1991). "Jodie Foster Appealing, But Not 'Silence of the Lambs'". Chicago Tribune . Chicago, Illinois. Archived from the original on July 22, 2014. Retrieved May 2, 2022.
  40. 1 2 3 ""Gene Siskel Tribute January 26, 1946 – February 20, 1999". Siskel And Ebert Movie Reviews. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  41. Siskel, Gene (December 11, 1981). "'Dinner With Andre' an appetizing break from holiday hoopla". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved August 11, 2023 via
  42. "Hoop Dreams – Reviewed Over the Years, 1994". Siskel And Ebert Movie Reviews. Retrieved May 2, 2022.
  43. Siskel, Gene (December 16, 1977). "Energy, reality make 'Fever' dance". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 20, 2022.
  44. Ebert, Roger (March 7, 1999). "Saturday Night Fever". . Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  45. 1 2 Watson, Bret (May 17, 1996). "Siskel and Ebert answer 10 Stupid Questions". Entertainment Weekly . Retrieved May 2, 2022.
  46. 1 2 Davis, Patty (February 22, 1999). "Funeral plans announced for film critic Gene Siskel". CNN . Retrieved July 4, 2019.
  47. Siskel, Gene (April 16, 1976). "'Dumbo' heads holiday offerings". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved May 20, 2022.
  48. Grobel, Lawrence (January 1991). "Playboy Interview: Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert". Playboy. Archived from the original on December 12, 2017. Retrieved July 4, 2019.
  49. "Siskel & Ebert's 500th Anniversary Special, 1989". Siskel And Ebert Movie Reviews. Retrieved April 29, 2022.
  50. 1 2 "Siskel and Ebert Top Ten Lists (1969–1998)". May 3, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  51. "Gene Siskel's Top Ten Lists, 1969–1998". California Institute of Technology . Eric C. Johnson's archive. Archived from the original on August 19, 1999.
  52. Siskel, Gene (January 2, 1970). "1969's ten best movies--from 'Z' to 'B & C & T & A'". Chicago Tribune. p. A1. Retrieved June 25, 2022 via
  53. Siskel, Gene (January 3, 1971). "Critic's Choice: 10 Best Movies of 1970". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved July 4, 2021 via
  54. Siskel, Gene (December 29, 1974). "On the Big 10 scoreboard: Europe 6 U.S. 4". Chicago Tribune . Section 6, p. 2
  55. Siskel, Gene (January 1, 1978). "'Annie Hall' gives a laughing lift to year of space races". Chicago Tribune. Section 6, p. 3
  56. Siskel, Gene (January 9, 1979). "Movies '78: Films Clips and the year's Top 10 in review". Chicago Tribune . Section 6, p. 3
  57. Siskel, Gene (January 2, 1983). "Better films, more theaters: A winning year". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved May 21, 2022 via
  58. Siskel, Gene (December 25, 1983). "Movie year 1983: Box office was better than the films". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved May 20, 2022 via
  59. Siskel, Gene (December 23, 1984). "Movie year 1984: Money talks and big egos walk". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved June 12, 2022 via
  60. Siskel, Gene (January 3, 1988). "Amidst teen flicks and sequels, some good news and good movies". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved June 1, 2022 via
  61. Siskel, Gene (December 25, 1988). "An out-of-focus year missed its chance to make anything clear". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved June 1, 2022 via
  62. Siskel, Gene (December 31, 1992). "The class of '92: The best films of the year dared to challenge their audiences". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved May 18, 2022 via
  63. "'SCHINDLER'S LIST' TOPS SISKEL'S AND EBERT'S EAGERLY AWAITED '10 BEST FILMS OF 1993' – Free Online Library". December 27, 1993. Archived from the original on December 9, 2017. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  64. Siskel, Gene (December 25, 1994). "The Year's Best Movies". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  65. Snow, Shauna (January 1, 1999). "Arts and Entertainment Reports From The Times, News Services And The Nation's Press". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 24, 2015. Retrieved May 3, 2022. Siskel chose the box-office flop "Babe: Pig in the City" as the year's best film, followed by "The Thin Red Line," "Pleasantville," "Saving Private Ryan," "Shakespeare in Love," "The Truman Show," "Antz," "Simon Birch," "There's Something About Mary" and "Waking Ned Devine."
  66. "Best of 1985". Siskel And Ebert Movie Reviews. Retrieved May 20, 2022.
  67. Ebert, Roger (2011). Life Itself: A Memoir . New York City: Grand Central Publishing. pp.  312–323. ISBN   978-0-446-58496-8.
  68. Life Itself. Dir. Steve James. Part. Roger Ebert and Chaz Ebert. Magnolia, 2014.
  69. Singer 2023, p. 221.
  70. "Doctors give Siskel two thumbs up after brain surgery". CNN . May 13, 1998. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  71. "In Tribute: Legendary film reviewer leaves thumbprint on a nation of moviegoers". The Star Press. March 27, 1999. p. 29. Retrieved August 27, 2020 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  72. "Godzilla, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Bulworth, The Horse Whisperer, 1998". Siskel And Ebert Movie Reviews. Retrieved July 1, 2022.
  73. "The Truman Show, The Last Days of Disco, A Perfect Murder, The Opposite of Sex, Hope Floats, 1998". Siskel And Ebert Movie Reviews. Retrieved July 1, 2022.
  74. "Six Days, Seven Nights, Can't Hardly Wait, Cousin Bette, Mr. Jealousy, High Art, 1998". Siskel And Ebert Movie Reviews. Retrieved July 1, 2022.
  75. Singer 2023, p. 222.
  76. Singer 2023, p. 226.
  77. Singer 2023, p. 230.
  78. Rumore, Kori (October 19, 2016). "Buried in Chicago: Where the famous rest in peace". Chicago Tribune . Archived from the original on October 21, 2016. Retrieved July 1, 2022.
  79. Wilson, Scott; Mank, Gregory W. (forward) (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons (3rd ed.). McFarland & Co. #11741. ISBN   978-0-7864-7992-4. OCLC   948561021.
  80. 1 2 3 School of the Art Institute of Chicago: Gene Siskel Film Center
  81. 1 2 "Broken Arrow, Black Sheep, Beautiful Girls, A Midwinter's Tale, Antonia's Line, 1996". Siskel And Ebert Movie Reviews. Retrieved April 29, 2022.
  82. Berardinelli, James (February 22, 1999). "A Thumb Falls Silent: A Short Tribute to Gene Siskel". Retrieved December 16, 2009.
  83. "Tremors, Ski Patrol, Internal Affairs, The Plot Against Harry, 1990". Siskel And Ebert Movie Reviews. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  84. Karney, Robyn (2001). Cinema: Year by Year 1894–2001. DK. ISBN   978-0-7894-8047-7.
  85. "At The Movies – Trivia". IMDb. February 10, 1996. Retrieved July 4, 2019.[ better source needed ]
  86. Bernstein, Fred (August 20, 1984). "Tough! Tender! Gritty! Evocative! Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert Live to Dissect Films-and Each Other". People . Archived from the original on January 10, 2011. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  87. Zoglin, Richard (May 25, 1987). ""It Stinks!" "You're Crazy!"". Time . Archived from the original on September 19, 2012. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  88. Siskel, Gene (August 16, 1996). "FRESH COMIC ROMANCE TAKES POLISHED 'TIN CUP' BEYOND WORLD OF PRO GOLF". Chicago Tribune . Archived from the original on December 19, 2013.
  89. "Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, Like Father Like Son, Baby Boom, Big Shots, Matewan, 1987". Siskel And Ebert Movie Reviews. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  90. "Tin Cup, House Arrest, Killer: A Journal of Murder, Alaska, Butterfly Kiss, 1996". Siskel And Ebert Movie Reviews. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  91. Perrone, Pierre (February 23, 1999). "Obituary: Gene Siskel". The Independent. Retrieved March 7, 2022.
  92. Ebert, Roger (February 17, 2009). "Remembering Gene". Archived from the original on February 7, 2013. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  93. Wood, Jennifer M. (September 13, 2016). "13 Facts About Siskel and Ebert At the Movies". Mental Floss. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  94. 1 2 Ebert, Roger (October 17, 1986). "Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel". The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers . Season 1. Episode 7. Fox Network. Fox Entertainment Group.
  95. 1 2 Warren, Ellen; Wiltz, Teresa (March 23, 1999). "Oscar Night Salute to Siskel Was All Whoopi". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  96. Singer 2023, pp. 202–204.

Further reading