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Film Critic Gene Siskel Dies

February 20, 1999

CHICAGO (AP) _ Film critic Gene Siskel, known for the thumbs-up and thumbs-down reviews he and fellow critic Roger Ebert shared on their popular TV show, died Saturday. He was 53.

Siskel, 53, had surgery in May to remove a growth from his brain, but returned to the television show soon afterward. He announced earlier this month that he was taking time off from that show to spend time recuperating from the surgery.

Siskel wrote movie reviews for the Chicago Tribune and also did reviews for ``CBS This Morning″ and WBBM-TV in Chicago.

He had said when he announced his leave on Feb. 3 that he expected to return to writing his reviews and the television show this fall.

``I’m in a hurry to get well because I don’t want Roger to get more screen time than I,″ Siskel said then.

Paul Dergarabedian, spokesman for Exhibitor Relations Co. which compiles box office receipts, called Siskel’s death a great loss.

``He, along with his partner Roger Ebert, took film criticism into the mainstream,″ he said. ``The average person would look toward them about whether to take their hard-earned dollars to the box office.″

Siskel and Ebert are perhaps the most recognizable movie critics in the nation. Their trademark ``thumbs-up″ and ``thumbs-down″ reviews became a benchmark for the movie industry.

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