News Local/State

Ebert Sculpture Permanently ‘At The Movies’

Chaz Ebert with Roger Ebert Sculpture

Chaz Ebert poses with the sculpture of her late husband, Roger Ebert, outside Champaign's Virginia Theatre Thursday. (Jeff Bossert/WILL)

One of Champaign-Urbana’s most famous native sons now has a permanent home at one of his favorite spots in the community. 

A bronze sculpture of the late film critic Roger Ebert, first unveiled during the 16th annual ‘Ebertfest’ in April, was dedicated outside the Virginia Theater Thursday.

Bloomington Artist Rick Harney’s creation now includes plaques discussing Ebert’s life, and a list of donors to the $125,000 project.

Ebert’s wife Chaz Ebert says her husband never forgot where he came from.

“He really believed that I am my brother’s keeper," he said.  "And so he reached out to a lot of people.  I know over the years through the Urbana Free Library and through some of the other organizations.  He used to donate books, he used to come back and speak, and now he can’t do those things.  But symbolically, he still will.”

Anyone can pose with the Ebert sculpture, seated in the middle of three auditorium chairs, giving the trademark ‘thumbs up.’

Chaz Ebert has been touring with the film 'Life Itself', Steve James' documentary film chronicling Ebert's life.

She said word has gotten out about Harney's work.

"Champaign and Urbana, hold onto your hats," she said.  "I think people are going to come to see this sculpture, because we've already gotten requests from other cities saying 'why isn't it in 'X' city?' And I said, because the community wanted it here, and because it's his hometown."

'Life Itself' screened during Ebertfest in April, and has been making its way through festival circuit.  It's now available on demand, and opens in Champaign next Friday.