The Official Site of Gene Siskel The Official Site of Gene Siskel The Official Site of Gene Siskel
The Official Site of Gene Siskel The Official Site of Gene Siskel The Official Site of Gene Siskel
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Along with his colleague Roger Ebert, Gene Siskel is arguably the one other person who can be credited with changing the face of journalistic film criticism. When he took over as film critic of The Chicago Tribune he maintained a level of sincerity and down-to-earth wholesomeness that translated well to his readers. He also influenced the way movies were made and viewed by bringing film criticism to the mainstream. Thin and balding, witty and wry, movie fans around the world were drawn to Siskel because throughout his career, he remained journalism's definitive "everyman."

He was born Eugene Kal Siskel on Jan. 26, 1946 in Chicago, Ill. to parents Nathan and Ida Kalis Siskel. By the time Gene was nine years old both parents had passed away and he moved to the nearby town of Glencoe, where he was raised by his uncle and aunt, Joseph and Mae Gray.

Siskel developed an intense passion for cinema at an early age. At a time when most American children were slaves to their television sets, Siskel preferred walking several blocks to the historic Nortown Theater, his favorite place to catch a show. Like a child stepping into a fantasy world, he would lose himself in the Nortown's spacious Mediterranean interior and find himself gazing into the effervescent glow of the theater's unique lighting system. As Siskel himself once said, he was "swept away" by the experience.

As a teen, Siskel attended the Culver Military Academy in northern Indiana and went on to graduate from Yale University in 1967 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy. After graduating from Yale, Siskel won a public affairs scholarship and found work on a California political campaign. He then joined the Army Reserves and was assigned to the United States Department of Defense Information School, where after writing and editing media releases, he developed his love for journalism.

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Gene Siskel Headshot/SKREBNESKI PHOTOGRAPH 1986