By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES, April 4 (Reuters) - Pulitzer-Prize winning film critic Roger Ebert died on Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times said, two days after he said his cancer of 10 years ago had returned.
"It is with a heavy heart we report that legendary film critic Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) has passed away," the newspaper where Ebert worked for decades said on Twitter.
"There is a hole that can't be filled. One of the greats has left us. Roger Ebert has passed away at the age of 70," the Chicago Sun-Times added.
Ebert gained national prominence with fellow Chicago film critic Gene Siskel on the television show "At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert," coining the phrase "Two Thumbs Up." After Siskel's death in 1999, Ebert teamed with critic Richard Roeper, but later quit for health reasons.
Ebert, one of the most widely read movie critics in the United States, lost his ability to speak and eat after surgeries for thyroid and salivary gland cancer in 2002 and 2003.
On Tuesday, he posted a blog entry saying he was taking a "leave of presence" from his more than 40-year career and scaling back his work after doctors diagnosed his cancer had returned.
It was discovered by doctors after he fractured his hip in December.
The 'painful fracture' that made it difficult for me to walk has recently been revealed to be a cancer," Ebert said in the blog posting, giving no further details about the type of cancer or diagnosis.
"I am not going away," he added. "My intent is to continue to write selected reviews ... What's more, I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review."
Ebert's reviews were syndicated to more than 200 newspapers and he had been reviewing films for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967. He won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1975.
Forbes magazine dubbed Ebert the most powerful pundit in America in 2007. (Additional reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Peter Cooney)