Last Updated: December 17, 2023
Richest CelebritiesAuthors
Net Worth:
$5 Million
Jan 26, 1946 - Feb 20, 1999 (53 years old)
Writer, Journalist, Film critic, Critic, Actor
United States of America
💰 Compare Gene Siskel's Net Worth

What was Gene Siskel's Net Worth?

Gene Siskel was an American film critic and journalist who had a net worth of $5 million at the time of his death. Gene Siskel was born in Chicago, Illinois in January 1946 and passed away in February 1999. Siskel was best known for being part of the movie review duo Siskel & Ebert, with Roger Ebert. Siskel and Ebert became a sensation in American pop culture and were known for their biting wit, intense professional rivalry, heated arguments, and their trademark "Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down" movie ratings system.

Siskel began working at the Chicago Tribute in 1969. He worked as a film critic for the paper before meeting Chicago Sun-Times film reviewer Robert Ebert in 1975. The subsequently began co-hosting a show on the local PBS station known as "Sneak Previews." Siskel and Ebert developed their "thumbs-up, thumbs-down" rating system and Sneak Previews was broadcast nationwide in 1977 on PBS. They left PBS for syndication and hosted the show "At the Movies" which was distributed by Tribune Broadcasting and later The Walt Disney Company. The title was changed to "Siskel & Ebert & the Movies," but later changed to just "Siskel & Ebert." Siskel also served as a correspondent for the TV series "CBS This Morning" from 1990 to 1996 and then "Good Morning America" from 1996 to 1999. As a duo Siskel & Ebert were nominated for seven Primetime Emmy Award and three Daytime Emmy Awards. Gene Siskel passed away on February 20, 1999 at the age of 53 from complications due to surgery related to a cancerous brain tumor.

Early Life

Gene Siskel was born on January 26, 1946 in Chicago, Illinois to Ida and Nathan William Siskel, both of whom were Russian Jewish immigrants. Siskel was orphaned as a child and then raised by his aunt and uncle beginning when he was nine years old. He attended Culver Academy and graduated from Yale University with a degree in philosophy in 1967. While there, he studied writing under Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Hersey. It was Hersey's reference that helped him get a job at the "Chicago Tribune" in 1969.

Early Career

After finishing his studies, Siskel served in the U.S. Army Reserve where he was a military journalist and public affairs officer for the Defense Information School. He then got a job as a film reviewer with the "Chicago Tribune." His first review was for the film "Rascal." He remained the paper's film critic until 1986 when the "Chicago Tribune" announced that Siskel was no longer the paper's full-time critic but rather would work as a freelance contract writer. He remained in this role until 1999.

In 1975, Siskel teamed up with Roger Ebert, the film reviewer for the "Chicago Sun-Times." The pair began hosting a show on the local Chicago PBS station, WTTW, which eventually became known as "Sneak Previews." On the show, they developed a thumbs-up, thumbs-down system to review films, with Siskel and Ebert each rating each movie as either a thumbs-up or down after delivering their full review. The rating system soon became an easily recognizable trademark, so popular that it came to be parodied on comedy shows and films such as "Second City Television," "In Living Color," "Bizarre," "Hollywood Shuffle," and "Godzilla." "Sneak Previews" gained a nationwide audience in 1977 when WTTW offered it as a series to the PBS Program system.

Gene Siskel Net Worth

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Siskel & Ebert

In 1982, Siskel and Ebert left WTTW and PBS for syndication. They developed a new show called "At the Movies" that was produced and distributed by Tribune Broadcasting, the parent company of the "Chicago Tribune" and WGN-TV. In 1986, Siskel and Ebert left Tribune Broadcasting to have their show produced by the syndication arm of The Walt Disney Company. The new incarnation of the show was originally titled "Siskel & Ebert & the Movies" but it was later shortened to "Siskel & Ebert."

Siskel and Ebert were known for their many appearances on late-night talk shows like "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson." They also made appearances on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "The Arsenio Hall Show," "Howard Stern," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." The two also appeared on "Saturday Night Live" in 1982, 1983, and 1985. In 1991, they appeared on "Sesame Street." In 1991, Siskel appeared as himself in an episode of "The Larry Sanders Show." "Entertainment Weekly" chose his performance on the show as one of the great scenes in that year's television.

The last five movies Siskel reviewed with Ebert on the show before his death aired during the weekend of January 23, 1999. On that show, they reviewed the films "At First Sight," "Another Day in Paradise," "The Hi-Lo Country," "Playing by Heart," and "The Theory of Flight." After Siskel died, he was eventually replaced on the show by Richard Roeper.

Siskel's review style was generally considered to be abrasive and harsh at times. He often gave thumbs-down reviews to films that went on to become very popular like "The Terminator," "Predator," "The Silence of the Lambs," and "Unforgiven." However, when he did like a film, he held those films close to his heart. Some of his favorite films were "My Dinner with Andre," "Shoah," "Fargo," and the documentary "Hoop Dreams."

Personal Life and Death

In 1980, Siskel married Marlene Iglitzen. She was a producer for CBS in New York. They had two daughters together, Kate and Callie, and a son, Will. Their daughters went on to attend their father's alma mater, Yale University.

In May 1998, Siskel was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. He underwent brain surgery three days later. In the few weeks after the surgery, he did the "Siskel & Ebert" show from the telephone. Siskel did eventually return to the studio after the recovery but he was notably more lethargic and mellow than usual. On February 3, 1999, he announced that he was taking a leave of absence from the show, though he expected to return in the fall. However, Siskel died on February 20, 1999 from complications of his brain surgery. His funeral was held two days later at the North Suburban Synagogue Beth El. He is interred at Westlawn Cemetery in Norridge, Illinois. At the 1999 Academy Awards, Whoopi Goldberg gave an impromptu tribute to Siskel, as he was not included in the show's in memoriam montage.

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