I just wanted to express my deep sadness for the passing of a most incredible man and a dear friend, Roger Ebert, the well-known film critic whose career blossomed at the Chicago Sun-Times but was made famous with his legendary show “Siskel and Ebert” which later became “Ebert and Roeper.”
I met Roger many years ago at one of the first Toronto Film Festivals. My film “Union City” was screening there. We spent a lot of time together viewing the films at the festival and discussing Fellini’s film “Prova D’Orchestra,” which was not understood by Americans at that time.
Apart from the great time I had with Roger watching movies, I will never forget the time when I woke up in the middle of the night in my hotel suite being unable to breathe or talk. My throat was shut and I could not even call the room service for a cup of tea. I thought I could die without being able to call anyone. My allergies had hit me once again. The next day the organizers had scheduled interviews for me and did not seem to care of how I was feeling. Roger ran to the pharmacy to get me some medicine. I’ll never forget his chivalry. He was much more than a talented critic. He was a kind, generous person.
Some time ago, when I found out that Roger had been diagnosed with cancer, I wanted to write him thanking him for his care of me in the past, and to tell him how fondly I remembered the time in Toronto when we watched together the premiere of my film with James Mason, called “Kidnap Syndicate.” But I did not have his address. Now I am sorry I missed that opportunity. One should always remember to tell people how much we appreciate them while they are still around. That was one of my messages in my show “Illusions.” I am sad I was not able to thank Roger and tell him how much I loved being with him.
To this day I have kept his postcard from Venice in which he wrote that he saw “Union City” again at the Festival there and thought I was the best thing in the film. Coming from him, that was an honor.
Thank you Roger, I will never forget you.