Mr. Ebert had befriended Meyer after writing a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal. “His films are more alive and interesting than most current action pictures costing 20 times as much,” Mr. Ebert wrote in 1968. “And his heroines are technically interesting as well.”
They spent six weeks producing the 1970 film “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” for 20th Century Fox, a rare venture by a major studio into X-rated filmmaking about the rise and fall of an all-woman rock band.
“As funny as a burning orphanage,” Variety said at the time.
“An indestructible cult classic,” Mr. Ebert countered 33 years later in the Sun-Times.
“Quite frankly and in all due modesty,” he wrote, “I think it is the best rock camp horror exploitation musical ever made.”
After contributing under pseudonyms to three more Meyer films, Mr. Ebert resolved not to dabble again in movie production.
“It’s a conflict of interest. When you’re a film critic, you have to stay away from that,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1986.
Mr. Ebert lived as a bachelor until 1989, when he met Chaz Hammel-Smith (later shortened to Hammelsmith), a Chicago lawyer, through friends. They married on Mr. Ebert’s birthday in 1992. “There’s a British beer that has an ad I used to look at in the subway in London,” he said later. “It said, ‘Refreshes the parts that others do not reach.’ And that was Chaz.”
She survives, along with a stepdaughter and two grandchildren, according to the Sun-Times.
When Siskel died in 1999 from a brain tumor, Mr. Ebert continued hosting the weekly TV show — first with guests, then with fellow Sun-Times writer Richard Roeper. Mr. Ebert left the show in 2006, when he lost his voice after surgery to remove part of his jaw, where cancer had surfaced for the third time since 2002.
He continued to make public appearances when his health allowed. In February 2010, a striking portrait of Mr. Ebert with sections of his jaw missing appeared on the cover of Esquire magazine.
“I was told photos of me in this condition would attract the gossip papers,” he wrote. “So what? I have been very sick, am getting better and this is how it looks. We spend too much time hiding illness.”
Mr. Ebert communicated in his last years through his wife; with the aid of a computerized voice; and by writing in a notebook or on a slate he carried with him. He also spoke on the Internet, where in 2008 he began keeping a personal blog, opining on matters political, personal and professional.
He published his autobiography, “Life Itself,” to a sparkling reception in 2011.
A good critic “doesn’t have the answers, but he can be an example of the process of finding your own answers,” Mr. Ebert wrote on his blog in 2008.
And if his movie-reviewing shows had any lasting utility, he wrote, “it was in exposing viewers, many of them still children, to the notion that it was permitted to have opinions, and expected that you should explain them.”