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OTRC: Roger Ebert dies at age 70, President Barack Obama issues statement

President Barack Obama talks to the press at the White House on Friday, March 1, 2013.

President Barack Obama has issued a statement saying he and first lady Michelle Obama are "saddened" to hear about the death of Roger Ebert, the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Ebert, known for his "two thumbs up" catchphrase and for his other job as co-host of the show "At the Movies," died at age 70 on Thursday, April 4. The Illinois native had recently said he was taking a "leave of presence" because of a recurrence of cancer. He is survived by wife Chaz Hammelsmith, a step-daughter, and two step-grandchildren.

Hours after the Chicago Sun-Times announced Ebert's death, the president issued the following statement via the White House Press Office:

    "Michelle and I are saddened to hear about the passing of Roger Ebert. For a generation of Americans -- and especially Chicagoans -- Roger was the movies. When he didn't like a film, he was honest; when he did, he was effusive -- capturing the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical."

    "Even amidst his own battles with cancer, Roger was as productive as he was resilient - continuing to share his passion and perspective with the world. The movies won't be the same without Roger, and our thoughts and prayers are with Chaz and the rest of the Ebert family."

The president served in the Illinois Senate before he was elected U.S. leader for the first time in 2004 and had before that worked as a lawyer and law professor in Chicago.

Check out more details about Roger Ebert as well as an exclusive 2009 interview with him, carried out by OTRC.com correspondent George Pennacchio of parent company KABC Television. Ebert, speaking via a computer, gave his picks and predictions for the 2009 Oscars.

(Pictured: President Barack Obama talks to the press at the White House on Friday, March 1, 2013.)

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