Eugene Kal Siskel
(January 26, 1946 – February 20, 1999) was the film critic for the Chicago Tribune
. Along with Roger Ebert
, he was one-half of the weekly film review show Siskel & Ebert: At the Movies.
The two of them rated films with a simple system: thumbs up or down, with a brief discussion of a film's strengths and/or weaknesses before presenting a verdict.
The show propelled both Siskel and Ebert to nationwide acclaim, including appearances on The Tonight Show
, and made both two of the most influential voices in American film criticism (and thus arguably all
cultural criticism in the late 20th/early 21st century).
Siskel died in 1999 of complications following surgery to remove a brain tumor. He'd announced a leave of absence from "At the Movies" two weeks prior. Ebert frequently referred to his colleague in his essays until his own death in 2013.
- Siskel once appeared on The Larry Sanders Show As Himself.
- Jay Sherman in The Critic is visibly a gestalt of both Siskel and Ebert; he has Siskel's hairstyle and Ebert's body type.
- Reportedly, in Willow, the heads of the moat monster were nicknamed "Siskel" and "Ebert." The villain of the film was also named "General Kael", after the critic Pauline Kael.
- Captain Ersatz's of him and Ebert also appear in Godzilla (1998), as Obstructive Bureaucrats. Both, funnily enough, felt the film didn't go far enough with punishing them.
- Insult to Rocks: Discussing Ishtar on their Worst of '87 special, Gene Siskel said "I just saw Road to Morocco, and it is funnier than Ishtar—of course, that's really, I guess, an insult to Road to Morocco. Anything is funnier than Ishtar—except Leonard Part 6."
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Siskel generally came off as the Red Oni to Ebert's Blue Oni. Ebert's tastes tended to be more highbrow, and Siskel's more mainstream, as exemplified by their all-time favorite films: La Dolce Vita for Ebert, Saturday Night Fever for Siskel.