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Roger Ebert gets his final 'thumbs up'

Roger Ebert's funeral was attended by family, friends, and fans. "It didn't matter to him your race, creed, color," said his widow. "He had a big enough heart to accept and love all."

Movie critics Roger Ebert (r.) and Gene Siskel trademarked their 'two thumbs up' phrase. Mr. Siskel passed on in 1999 and Mr. Ebert passed on last week; his funeral was held today in Chicago.

Disney-ABC Domestic Television / AP / File

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Roger Ebert, one of the nation's most influential film critics who used newspapers, television and social media to take readers into theaters and even into his own life, was laid to rest Monday with praise from political leaders, family and people he'd never met but who chose movies based on the direction of his thumb.

"He didn't just dominate his profession, he defined it," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a brief eulogy to hundreds of mourners who gathered at Holy Name Cathedral just blocks from where Ebert spent more than 40 years as the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. Ebert died last Thursday at the age of 70 after a yearslong battle with cancer.

It was Ebert who told readers which films to see and needed to see and which ones they should stay away from, Mr. Emanuel said, remembering the influence Ebert had on movie goers through his newspaper reviews and the immensely popular television show he hosted with fellow critic Gene Siskel during which they would issue thumbs-up or thumbs-down assessments.

"Roger spent a lot of time sitting through bad movies so we didn't have to," joked the mayor.

In a 90-minute funeral mass, speakers took turns talking about how Ebert spent his career communicating his ideas about movies, social issues, the newspaper business and finally the health problems that left him unable to speak.


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