Roger Ebert has struggled with complications from jaw cancer for the past five years. He’s currently cancer-free, but missing a good chunk of jaw and the ability to talk without a computer.
But that hasn’t stopped him from working on the development of a new movie-review television show, and now he’s got a new prosthetic jaw that makes him look a lot like the old Roger Ebert.
He explained on his blog that the prosthesis was a result of a “two-year process that has now resulted with my coming into possession of a silicone prosthesis. This device [fits] over my lower face and neck and colored to match my skin.”
I was pretty indifferent to Roger Ebert until I read an Esquire article on him last February that painted him as a bastion of strength and inspiration. It ran with a close-up of his embattled face, and unflinching descriptions of how Ebert deals with the changes in his life. The piece also includes an anecdote about how his life was literally saved by Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man.”
Now, with the help of his computerized voice (taken from audio tracks of his actual voice), and his new prosthetic jaw, Roger is television ready. He explained:
“I will wear the prosthesis on the new television show – that’s not to fool anyone, because my appearance is widely known. It will be a pleasant reminder of the person I was for 64 years.”
“Symbolically, it’s as if my illness never happened and, hey, here I still am, on the show with these new kids,” he adds. “When people see the ‘Roger’s Office’ segment, they’ll notice my voice more than my appearance.”
Here’s a photo of a younger Roger Ebert with his At the Movies partner Gene Siskel, who died in 1999 from complications from a brain tumor surgery: