Roger Ebert could be tough on filmmakers, but he earned their respect.
They claimed him as one of their own four years ago when the Directors Guild of America made Ebert an honorary lifetime member.
What better testimony for a life's work in a profession that typically draws sneers from filmmakers and fans alike? But then Ebert was not just any critic. He was THE critic.
At the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967 and through decades as a pioneering film reviewer on television, Ebert championed tiny gems he scouted out at film festivals and took Hollywood's biggest names to task when they missed the mark.
The 70-year-old Ebert died Thursday at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, two days after announcing he was undergoing radiation treatment for a recurrence of cancer.