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Siskel & Ebert’s legacies live on

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_


Every Oscars season throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times fiercely debated the Academy’s nominations on their syndicated TV show “At the Movies.” 

The iconic film critics were well known across the country for rating films thumbs up or down and of course their rivalry

They were total opposites, from their appearances to approaches to film criticism, peers and co-workers said in The Chicagoan.

Ebert, an only child from Champaign-Urbana, was a natural writer. He penned a newsletter as a kid and edited the student newspaper at the University of Illinois before earning a Pulitzer Prize in Criticism at the Sun-Times, according to The Ringer.

Siskel, the youngest of six, was raised by his aunt and uncle in Glencoe. Growing up, he frequented his local theater and later discussed films with friends at Yale. After a stint in the army, he landed at the Tribune.

Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel in 1987. (Photo by Michael L. Abramson/Getty Images)

The two joined forces to discuss films in 1975 with a first-of-its-kind movie review show on WTTW. The show had many iterations over its 36-year run, but the pair revolutionized film critique and ultimately how we argue.

When Siskel died after complications with a brain tumor in 1999, Ebert continued the show until 2010. He died in 2013 after a long battle with cancer.

But their legacies live on: Ebertfest is returning to his hometown in April after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, and the Gene Siskel Film Center downtown is celebrating its 50th anniversary by playing a film every Monday from each year the film center has been open. 

Rebecca Fons and Jean St. de Aubin of the Siskel tell us more about its history and future.

Trivia Question: Can you name three of the nine movies Siskel and Ebert agreed on as the best film of the year?

Answer correctly, and we’ll send you swag! Email

👉 Read Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips’ take on this year’s Oscar nominations, and how the gold statuette was made in Chicago.

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▪️ Red Stars coach Rory Dames resigned from the team in the fall amid sexual abuse allegations. But former Chicagoland youth players say his misconduct goes back decades. [Washington Post]

▪️ Here’s how you can continue to seek justice for Laquan McDonald. [The Triibe]

▪️ Indicted Ald. Ed Burke still doesn’t have a trial date following a long-awaited hearing Tuesday. The city’s longest-serving alder was criminally charged three years ago. [Chicago Sun-Times]

▪️ Add this reggaeton fest to your Summertime Chi bucket list! [WGN]

▪️ Jonesing for more “South Side?” The beloved Chicago comedy is renewed for a third season! [Variety]

▪️ Meet the pets of the city’s neighborhood bars. [Eater Chicago]


THIS WEEK: Black Restaurant Week
Order from any of this year’s participating restaurants across the city. 

THIS WEEKEND: Bronzeville tour with TikTok Historian
Tour the historic neighborhood with Shermann “Dilla” Thomas Saturday. 

THIS MONTH: Second City show in Old Town
Catch iconic classic sketches from the comedy club’s Black alumni.


All these love stories have our hearts singing — especially reader Suzy Jackson’s.

“I’ve been in love with Chicago my whole life but found true love here later in life. My husband and I met through mutual friends at Blues Fest, and even though we were in our 40s/50s, we fell in love like a couple of teenagers. 

Now after being married nearly 10 years, we are still singing but no longer have the blues. Anything can happen, any time, even when you least expect it.” 

Music to our ears 💙

Did you fall in love with Chi when you saw the skyline? At the first bite of a pizza puff? Meet your person in the 312? Tell us! Text/call (773) 780-0246, or email