He attended the university and was editor of the student newspaper. After his graduation in 1964, he spent a year on scholarship at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and then began work toward a doctorate in English at the University of Chicago.
Ebert’s hometown embraced the film critic, hosting the annual Ebertfest film festival and placing a plaque at his childhood home.
Ebert also was embraced online in the years after he lost his physical voice. He kept up a Facebook page, a Twitter account with nearly 600,000 followers and a blog, Roger Ebert’s Journal.
The Internet was where he forged relationships with his readers, posting links to stories he found interesting and writing long pieces on varied topics, not just film criticism. He interacted with readers in the comments sections and liked to post old black-and-white photos of Hollywood stars and ask readers to guess who they were.
‘‘My blog became my voice, my outlet, my ‘social media’ in a way I couldn’t have dreamed of,’’ Ebert wrote in his memoir. ‘‘Most people choose to write a blog. I needed to.’’
Ebert wrote in 2010 that he did not fear death because he didn’t believe there was anything ‘‘on the other side of death to fear.’’
‘‘I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state,’’ he wrote. ‘‘I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting.’’