Los Angeles Times

Film Critic Ebert Preps for Cancer Surgery

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Roger Ebert is giving a preliminary thumbs up to cancer surgery.

The film critic will go under the scalpel Friday, June 16 to have a growth removed from his salivary gland, report news sources.

"It's not life threatening, and I expect to make a full recovery," the 63-year-old critic says. "I'll continue to function as a film critic during this time."

That's a relief; otherwise, how will we know if "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties" is worth coughing up $10 bucks for?

Ebert has battled cancer in recent years and has had surgery three times before. In 2003 his salivary gland was acting up again, necessitating two surgeries. The year before, he had a malignant tumor removed from his thyroid gland.

"This is known as a slow-growing and persistent cancer," Ebert says. "You live with it."

Ebert began his journalism career 50 years ago as a sports writer on The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Just six months after joining the Chicago Sun-Times, he was named the film critic in 1966. Nine years later, he became the first film critic to receive a Pulitzer Prize for arts criticism.

The same year Ebert first collaborated with Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel on the show "Sneak Previews," which later made way for the popular "Siskel & Ebert at the Movies." The "thumbs up, thumbs down" format continues today after Siskel's death in 1999 from cancer, this time with fellow Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper on "Ebert & Roeper."

Ebert tried his hand at screenwriting with "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" (coming to DVD on June 13) and "Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens." He also has a whopping 17 books under his belt including "Roger Ebert's Book of Film" and "I Hated, Hated, HATED This Movie."

In June 2005, he received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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