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Chaz and Roger Ebert Marriage Profile


Photo: Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Roger and Chaz Ebert in Toronto, Canada on September 13, 2009.

Photo: Jason Merritt / Getty Images
Described as not only successful, but also steadfast, the marriage of Chaz and Roger Ebert was a marriage that modeled being there for one another in illness and in health. Here is information on how Chaz and Roger met, their wedding, and more.
Fast Marriage Facts - Roger and Chaz
Met: 1989.
Married: July 18, 1992.
Marriage Ended: April 4, 2013, Roger's death.
First Marriage: No.

Did You Know?
The daughters of Gene Siskel were the flower girls at their wedding.


Roger Joseph Ebert: June 18, 1942 in Urbana, Illinois.

Charlie "Chaz" Hammel-Smith: Chicago, Illinois.


Roger: At the age of 70, Roger Ebert died from cancer on April 4, 2013 at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

How Chaz and Roger Met:

Roger and Chaz met in 1989.
“I love writing to him. When we first started dating, Roger and I would write to each other every morning ... Back in 1989, Roger was dining out with old friend Eppie Lederer, also known to advice-seeking newspaper readers as Ann Landers. Chaz was at another table with some people Lederer knew, and Roger was clearly taken with Chaz. “He wanted to meet me, so he had Eppie walk over with him to make the introduction,” she recalls. The attraction was mutual, and they began dating.”
Source: Hank Sartin. "Roger & Chaz." Chicago.Timeout.com. 10/2008.

"The marriage proposal, Chaz recalls, came during the Grand Prix in Monte Carlo while they were sitting outside eating ice cream. She does not remember if she said yes immediately."
Source: Carol Felsenthal. "A Life in the Movies." ChicagoMag.com. 12/2005.

Wedding Date:

Chaz and Roger were married on July 18, 1992 at the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, Illinois. Their wedding reception was held at the Drake Hotel. Guests at the wedding and reception included Marlene and Gene Siskel, Ann Landers, Studs Terkel, Christie Hefner, Mike Royko, and Russ Meyer.

The decorations at their wedding reception included white lilies and an ice cream bar with 32-40 different toppings. Gene Siskel's daughters, Callie and Kate, were the flower girls at Roger and Chaz's wedding.

Health Issues:

Since 2006 Roger couldn't talk, eat, or drink due to thyroid cancer (2002), salivary cancer, and the removal of his lower jaw. With the help of technology, Roger was able to talk through a computer. Video: Roger and Chaz Test His New Voice.
Roger: “I was very sick. ... This woman never lost her love, and when it was necessary she forced me to want to live. ... Her love was like a wind pushing me from the grave.”
Source: Rick Kogan. "Roger Ebert dead: Film critic had the soul of a poet." ChicagoTribune.com. 4/4/2013.


Chaz and Roger owned a beachfront home in Berrien County, Michigan and a Lincoln Park 5-story brownstone in Chicago.
"We found it together; we decorated it together," she [Chaz] says. The five-story place is dramatic, with a stunning atrium that shows off three large paintings by the British abstract expressionist Gillian Ayres; there is an elevator, a 14-seat screening room, and an exercise room at the top."
Source: Carol Felsenthal. "A Life in the Movies." ChicagoMag.com. 12/2005.

Chris Jones: "Roger and Chaz watch movies there [their basement theater], together; it makes for a great date night. Their first date — they were introduced by Ann Landers, by the way — was at Chicago's Lyric Opera. Hence the marquee."
Source: Chris Jones. "A Few More intimate Moments With Roger Ebert." Esquire.com. 3/02/2010. Slide 4.


Chaz: Lawyer, vice president of The Ebert Company.

Roger: Film critic, Pulitzer prize winner in 1975, author, lecturer.

Previous Marriages:

Chaz mentioned that she eloped "very early." She and her first husband, Merle Smith, an electrical engineer, had two children: Josibiah and Sonia.

Quotes About the Marriage of Chaz and Roger Ebert:

Roger: "I sensed from the first that Chaz was the woman I would marry, and I know after 20 years that my feelings were true. She has been with me in sickness and in health, certainly far more sickness than we could have anticipated. I will be with her, strengthened by her example. She continues to make my life possible, and her presence fills me with love and a deep security. That's what a marriage is for. Now I know."
Source: Roger Ebert. "Roger Loves Chaz." SunTimes.com. 7/17/2012.

Roger: "Marriage redefined everything. Although proposing to Chaz was indeed something I did freely, there is a point in a romance when you find your decision has been made for you. I wasn't looking for a wife. I didn't feel I 'had' to be married. I didn't think of myself as a bachelor but as a soloist. Yet when I proposed marriage it seemed as inevitable as going into newspaper work. I hope you understand the spirit in which I say that. I am speaking about what seems ordained."
Source: Roger Ebert. Life Itself: A Memoir. 2011. pg. 6.

Chaz: "We'll take each day as it comes. That's one of the reasons we were so attracted to each other, because we saw that the positive attitude in each other."
Source: Catherine Donaldson-Evans. "Roger Ebert's Wife Reveals Couple's Secret to Coping with Cancer." People.com. 4/20/2010.

Oprah Winfrey: "I would like to say, from one woman to another, you are incredible," Oprah says. "The reason is this: This woman refused to let him die. Years ago during the early, first operations when everybody was saying it's done, it's over, Chaz called me and said, 'I refuse to let him die.' And she stood by him and has been with him and taken care of him and shown what true love is."
Source: The Oprah Winfrey Show. "Roger Ebert Speaks Again." Oprah.com. 2/26/2010.

Chris Jones: "When CereProc finishes its work [mining Ebert's TV tapes and DVD commentaries], Roger Ebert won't sound exactly like Roger Ebert again, but he will sound more like him than Alex does. There might be moments, when he calls for Chaz from another room or tells her that he loves her and says goodnight —- he's a night owl; she prefers mornings —- when they both might be able to close their eyes and pretend that everything is as it was."
Source: Chris Jones. "Roger Ebert: The Essential Man." Esquire.com. 2/16/2010.

Chaz: “Roger’s passionate about life. Passionate about books, passionate about movies. I find that I learn from Roger even if I don’t agree with him.”
Source: Hank Sartin. "Roger & Chaz." Chicago.Timeout.com. 10/2008.

Roger: "One thing I've discovered is that I love my job more than I thought I did, and I love my wife even more!"
Source: Roger Ebert. "Roger writes to readers." RogerEbert.SunTimes.com. 10/11/2006.

Carol Felsenthal: "He said often that what he admired most about Gene Siskel was his devoted marriage and his obvious love for his wife and children."
Source: Carol Felsenthal. "A Life in the Movies." ChicagoMag.com. 12/2005.

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