Roger Ebert, who was the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize and became a TV star while hosting a movie review show with fellow critic Gene Siskel, died in Chicago on Thursday, two days after he disclosed his cancer had returned.

"It is with a heavy heart we report that legendary film critic Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) has passed away," the Chicago Sun-Times, the newspaper where Ebert, 70, worked for decades, said on Twitter.

"There is a hole that can't be filled. One of the greats has left us," the newspaper added.

Ebert, who was dubbed by Forbes magazine in 2007 as the most powerful pundit in America, was one of the mostly widely read US movie critics, known for more than 40 years of insightful, sometimes sarcastic and often humorous reviews.

"For a generation of Americans, and especially Chicagoans, Roger was the movies," President Barack Obama said in a statement.

"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."

Ebert's reviews appeared in more than 200 newspapers and in 1975 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, the first film critic to do so.

His most visible role was as one of the hosts of a popular television movie review show with Gene Siskel, a reviewer from the rival Chicago Tribune. Siskel died in 1999 from a brain tumor. 

The program began airing in the 1970s on a Chicago public television station and eventually ran nationally under various names, including "Siskel & Ebert".

The sometimes sparring pair later trademarked their "Two thumbs up!" seal of approval for movies.

Source: Agencies