Gene Siskel

Died February 20, 1999


By Mark Caro, Tribune Movie Writer

February 22, 1999

Gene Siskel became famous on television, but as a point of pride, he consistently identified himself first as a print journalist.

"Gene always used to say the news director on a TV station would look around and take the person with the longest hair and say, 'You're the movie critic,' " Roger Ebert, his longtime television foil, recalled Sunday. "Gene and I were actually print journalists who were covering a beat, and we were hired to go on television and talk about our jobs."

Siskel was the Tribune's movie critic, and Ebert was his fierce Chicago Sun-Times rival when the two were paired in the fall of 1975 to discuss and debate new movies on a start-up public television show called "Opening Soon. . .at a Theater Near You." They argued passionately about their jobs on this and three increasingly popular incarnations of the show.

By the time the 53-year-old Siskel passed away Saturday morning, nine months after surgery to remove a growth from his brain, he and Ebert had sparked a mini-revolution of how film is viewed and discussed in popular culture. "I think that we tend to dismiss criticism done on television because of the time constraints, because they just don't have enough time," said New York Daily News film critic Jack Mathews. "That is absolutely true in the vast majority of cases. What Gene and Roger have done is show that serious criticism can be done in that short format."

Also from the Chicago Tribune site:


"In 1985 Gene Siskel was asked what his favorite movies were...and which ones made him cringe.":

His top 10 favorites:

"Annie Hall"


"Citizen Kane"

"City Lights"


"Red River"

"Singing in the Rain"

"Taxi Driver"

"Tokyo Story"


And the 10 he never wanted to see again...

"Friday the 13th"

"Friday the 13th -- Part II"

"Friday the 13th -- Part III"

"Friday the 13th -- The Final Chapter"

"Friday the 13th -- A New Beginning"

"Cannonball Run"

"Cannonball Run -- Part II"


"Porky's -- II"

"Porky's Revenge"

(ęCopyright 1999 Chicago Tribune)

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