Roger Ebert, the nation's highest-profile movie critic, is dead at age 70, his longtime employer, the Chicago Sun-Times, announced this afternoon.

He died today in his hometown of Chicago following a much-publicized battle with cancer, the paper reported:

The publication where he worked for 46 years called him “without question the nation's most prominent and influential film critic.”

Indeed, Hollywood came begging for his praise, which could make a movie if not break it.

His death follows that of longtime TV partner Gene Siskel in 1999, who reviewed films for rival paper the Chicago Tribune. Siskel also had cancer.

Ebert ruled the airwaves of film criticism for 31 years; he practically invented the genre.

On Tuesday Ebert tweeted about “my leave of absence.” He had a recurrence of cancer after suffering a broken hip in December.

He vowed not to go away and to continue to write “selected reviews.”

The Sun-Times said he's the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize. His television career included Coming Soon to a Theater Near You, Sneak Previews, Siskel & Ebert and Ebert & Roeper at the Movies.

[@dennisjromero / / @LAWeeklyNews]

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