CHICAGO, April 5 (UPI) -- Roger Ebert's wife of 20 years, Chaz, said the famed Chicago film critic smiled just before he died peacefully after a battle with cancer.
"We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away," Chaz Ebert said Thursday in a statement to People.com. "No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition."
Ebert's wife said she was "devastated" by the loss of "my husband, my friend, my confidante and oh-so-brilliant partner."
"He fought a courageous fight. I've lost the love of my life and the world has lost a visionary and a creative and generous spirit who touched so many people all over the world," she said. "We had a lovely, lovely life together, more beautiful and epic than a movie. It had its highs and the lows, but was always experienced with good humor, grace and a deep abiding love for each other."
Ebert, 70, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic who began writing for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967. He later gained national celebrity status as the host of movie review TV programs such as "Coming Soon to a Theater Near You," "Sneak Previews," "At the Movies," "Siskel & Ebert & The Movies" and "Ebert & Roeper." It was during his television career that he perfected the trademark thumbs up or thumbs down signs to recommend or blast thousands of movies during his programs.
Ebert slowed down a bit after a battle with thyroid cancer, which began in 2002. Although he had been unable to speak or eat solid foods for the past several years, due to complications from the disease and reconstructive surgeries, he kept writing until shortly before his death.
Rick Ross says he doesn't condone rape, despite suggestive song lyrics
NEW YORK, April 5 (UPI) -- U.S. rapper Rick Ross, who was widely criticized for "U.O.E.N.O," a song he sings about date rape, said via Twitter he doesn't "condone rape."
"Put molly all in her champagne, she ain't even know it. I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain't even know it," say the lyrics to the song, which was released in February.
"Molly" is slang for the psychoactive drug MDMA or ecstasy.
CNN said scores of protesters picketed outside a Reebok store in New York Thursday, demanding the sportswear manufacturer boot Ross as a celebrity spokesman.
"We are asking Reebok to drop their endorsement deal with Rick Ross," Shawna Thompson, a spokeswoman for the women's rights group that led the demonstration, told CNN. "The reason we are asking them to do is because Rick Ross recently rapped, bragging essentially, about drugging and raping women. We see this as an opportunity to elevate the fact that it's not OK to do that, and he shouldn't benefit from endorsement deals when he has rap lyrics like that."
"I dont condone rape," Ross said via Twitter. "Apologies for the #lyric interpreted as rape. #BOSS"
After his apology was criticized as being insincere, Ross tweeted: "Apologies to my many business partners, who would never promote violence against women. @ReebokClassics @ultraviolet"
CNN said Ross and Reebok's corporate headquarters did not respond to requests for comment on its story.
Burnell Taylor eliminated from 'American Idol'
LOS ANGELES, April 5 (UPI) -- Burnell Taylor, a 19-year-old aspiring singer from New Orleans, was eliminated from "American Idol."
Taylor was cut from the competition Thursday night.
Contestants are bounced from the show as the result of a combination of the celebrity judges' critiques and viewer votes.
Duchess Kate Middleton says baby due in mid-July
GLASGOW, Scotland, April 5 (UPI) – British Prince William's wife, Kate, says the couple's first child is due to be born in mid-July.
The royal couple confirmed the duchess' pregnancy in December but did not disclose the baby's gender or anticipated birth date.
"It's around mid-July but apparently babies have their own agenda," E! News reported Kate told reporters Friday in Glasgow, Scotland.