Gene Siskel Poster

Trivia (37)

Interred at Westlawn Cemetery, Chicago, IL.

Purchased the white disco suit from Saturday Night Fever (1977) at a charity auction.

Once told David Letterman that if he were trapped on a deserted island with only one film to watch, that film would be 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

The last five movies he reviewed on At the Movies (1986) before his death (for the week ending 1/23/99) were At First Sight (1999), Another Day in Paradise (1998), The Hi-Lo Country (1998), Playing by Heart (1998) and The Theory of Flight (1998). He gave a thumbs up to all of them, except for Playing by Heart (1998).

Considered Cannonball Run II (1984) to be the worst movie he had ever seen.

One of his proudest moments was when viewing the Chris Farley-David Spade vehicle Black Sheep (1996), he walked out right before the end for the first time in 27 years, saying, "It was a real high." Later on the show, Roger remarked he wished he had done the same. There was some controversy over his claim that he hadn't walked out on a movie in 27 years because he had mentioned walking out on other films in the period between them, most memorably the ultra-violent slasher film Maniac (1980). However, he later clarified that he hadn't walked out any films he had been assigned to cover for either the "Chicago Tribune" or his TV shows with Roger Ebert; the films he'd left in disgust were those that he and Ebert included in their show as "Dogs of the Week", movies that were not covered through their regular writing. "Black Sheep" was the first film that was assigned as a feature review for his column and TV show, and in disgust he left the theater before seeing the entire film.

Hated nothing worse than trying to watch a movie while a baby in the theatre is crying. Hated any mother who would bring an infant to a movie theatre and is willing to pay $10 to any usher who would chuck the baby out of the theatre along with its negligent mother.

Agreed with long-time colleague Roger Ebert on the best film of 1990 (Goodfellas (1990)) and the worst films of 1980 (I Spit on Your Grave (1978)) and 1994 (North (1994)).

Was one of the few critics to give the Oscar-winning The Silence of the Lambs (1991) a negative review.

The last review he ever wrote was for the Freddie Prinze Jr. / Rachael Leigh Cook vehicle She's All That (1999). He gave it three stars and a positive review (Roger was against it), and the last line was about Cook's breakthrough performance: "I look forward to seeing her in her next movie".

Grew up in the Chicago suburb of Glencoe, IL. Graduated from Culver Military Academy (Battery A) in 1963.

Of the three At the Movies (1982) hosts--himself, Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper--he was the only one not employed by the "Chicago Sun-Times".

Was a huge fan of the Chicago Bulls and often covered sports and interviews for local television.

While at Yale, he often dressed as Batman and paid people surprise visits. He was able to keep his identity secret for a week.

Majored in Philosophy at Yale.

His favorite movie of all-time was Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964).

In his review for Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), he said he could hardly wait for the next "Star Wars" movie. He died just three months before the release of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999).

His favorite movie villain was the "Hal 9000" computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

Says he has only walked out of three movies in his career as a film critic. The movies were The Million Dollar Duck (1971), Maniac (1980), and Black Sheep (1996).

When he and Roger Ebert were screening Fargo (1996) in 1996, he got up from his seat in the middle and tiptoed over to Roger and whispered in his ear: "This is why I go to the movies".

Is referenced, along with Roger Ebert, in Bloodhound Gang's song "The Bad Touch".

His parents were Russian Jewish immigrants.

He and Roger Ebert had the same choices for best film of the year nine times.

He was considerably taller than his co-host, Roger Ebert.

While praising the film School Ties (1992) on his show with Roger Ebert, he recalled experiencing anti-Semitic prejudice during his time at prep school. The example he gave was that one time someone handed him a piece of toast with the jam in the shape of a swastika. He gave thumbs up to movie but said that it was a tough experience watching it.

Had a brother William and a sister Arlene.

Selected The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) as the two best films of 1988, despite not awarding either film a perfect four stars. However, movies lower on his list did get a perfect score by him.

It was somewhat rare for him to award a film a perfect four-star score.

One month after being hired as the "Chicago Tribune"'s film critic, he wrote a negative review for the popular Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). His boss came by his desk and noticed the review and asked him, "How could you give a Paul Newman movie a negative review?".

Gave the theatrical version of Once Upon a Time in America (1984) 1.5 stars out of 4, but the re-release some months later with different construction topped his lists of the "Best Films of 1984" and "Best Films of the Decade.".

Eight films he called "best of the year" did not make partner Roger Ebert's annual list.

He was one of the few people along with Roger Ebert to like Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997). He received a lot of flak for it.

He remarked that his writing style has always been like a beat reporter covering the news of "a fire. And the fire is this movie".

While being guests with Roger Ebert at an episode of Donahue (1967) in the early 1990s, the two critics were asked what was the worst film they have seen. Siskel launched into tirade about how much he detested Drop Dead Fred (1991), while Ebert picked I Spit on Your Grave (1978).

Two years in a row a movie he gave thumbs to down won Best Picture Oscar: first The Silence of the Lambs (1991) then Unforgiven (1992).

His favorite film was Saturday Night Fever (1977).

Died too late for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to include him in its Academy Awards ceremony's In Memoriam montage of that year. Instead, the show's host of the montage, Whoopi Goldberg, gave a short speech during the show in memory of Siskel's contribution to film with a "Thumbs Up" in appreciation.