(CBS) – Regular people and celebrities alike on Thursday honored the memory of Roger Ebert, the trailblazing Chicago film critic who died last week at the age of 70.
Ebert, who had battled cancer the past decade, was laid to rest Monday after a funeral at Holy Name Cathedral.
Thursday evening’s event, “Roger Ebert: A Celebration of Life,” was held at the iconic Chicago Theatre. It was billed as a more relaxed affair with remembrances from celebrities that included Chicago actors Joan and John Cusack.
“I really feel the loss of a deep, deep important man, a friend, a brother,” Ebert friend Andrew Davis, a Chicago native who directed the 1993 Harrison Ford movie “The Fugitive,” told CBS 2’s Mike Parker before the program.
Ebert for years hosted a movie-review show with his Chicago Tribune rival Gene Siskel, who passed away in 1999. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Ebert, a downstate Urbana native, was credited with making film criticism more accessible to the movie-going public.
Ebert is survived by his wife, Chaz. She smiled as she arrived Thursday before a Chicago Theatre marquee that bore her late husband’s name. She received a standing ovation from the crowd as she took the stage inside.
“Roger, this is your happening and it’s freaking me out,” she joked, a variation on Ebert’s line from the screenplay he wrote for the 1970 cult classic “Beyond the Vally of the Dolls.”