© 2013 Kebba Buckley Button. World Rights Reserved.
This column, UpBeat Living, is about celebrating life. It’s about accentuating the positive in our words and attitudes, in our choices of friends, colleagues and projects. It’s about turning any negativity into constructive response. It’s about converting “stress” into worthy choices and forward motion, turning problems into projects.
Today, UpBeat Living celebrates a man who robustly lived a life in forward motion: Roger Ebert. This famous film critic helped define that profession and set standards many are still trying to meet. With his authenticity and ability to make his points clearly and succinctly, Roger Ebert stood alone.
It’s hard for me to remember a time in movie history when Siskel and Ebert were not on the air. I’m sure, during the Silent Movie Days, they were there already, with closed captioning or hand-held signs, giving us their honest and well-considered opinions. Picture them on the silent screen, sitting opposite each other, and holding a sign up with one hand, holding a thumb up or down with the other hand. A piano would be playing in the background, urgently if they were arguing, and lyrically, if the two were in agreement. Today, it’s silence only, for the two great movie critics.
Gene Siskel died in 1999, and Roger Ebert died on April 4th. The two began working together, hosting a PBS TV show, reviewing movies, in 1975– a bit after the days of silent movies– taking it to syndication in 1982. Siskel stayed until 3 weeks before his death. Ebert wept on air in the next episode, as he saluted Siskel and their partnership, then continued forging his creative path.
Whatever stage of life Roger Ebert was in, he went at it with gusto. He began life as a movie critic with the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967 and still wrote for them until his death. He would eventually author 20 books and hundreds of columns, co-create countless television episodes for film reviews, visit Sesame Street a few times, author screenplays, and give a TED talk. Even after he was diagnosed with thyroid and salivary cancer in 2002, he lived with the condition with grace. He kept smiling, and his eyes were bright with passion. After surgery in 2006, he finally lost his jaw, his ability to speak and his ability to eat. Unrecognizable from the square-faced man we had seen for many years, he still seemed to smile all the time, and his eyes danced with joy.
Roger Ebert celebrated his life with his wife, attorney Chaz Hammelsmith Ebert, whom he married in 1992. She has said their life was better than any movie. In recent years, Roger Ebert spoke through his blog, his 800,000-follower Twitter account, and a voice-synthesizing computer. He exuded enthusiasm, wonder, and happiness. Once he lost his physical voice, he wrote and presented a Ted talk about the importance of “voice” on different levels of life (www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNXOVpN8Wgg). So the man who made his name using his voice to talk about films had created his most important work, a film, without using his voice.
My review of his film: Excellent! Two thumbs up. You will long inspire us, Roger!
● Kebba Buckley Button is a corporate stress management trainer and the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You (on Amazon.com at (http://tinyurl.com/b44v3br) , and the 2012 book, Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core (on Amazon.com at http://tinyurl.com/abd47jr). She also has a natural healing practice and is an ordained minister.
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