For Joel

By Mark Ramsey | 2007/07/01

JoelSiegel.jpgMore than once he told me I amused him.

Or, as he put it, “you made me laugh out loud and loud and loud.”

If this was the one gift I could give to Joel Siegel, it was gift enough.

After 26 years of movie reviewing for ABC, Joel passed away on Friday from colon cancer. It was a battle he had been fighting for years, and one he wrote about achingly in his beautiful book Lessons for Dylan.

I knew Joel only a tiny little bit. But like you, I had a relationship with him for decades.

After Gene Siskel’s death Joel sat opposite Roger Ebert for two episodes as Roger auditioned a partner for his show’s next phase. Joel wrote me “whatever happens, for two days in March I got to be the tall, skinny one and that’s never happened to me before.”

This March Joel checked in again: “I’ve had a tough couple of months but I’m almost coming around.” It was that kind of hope that seemed to keep Joel’s spirits aloft, at least so it seemed to those of us who knew him mostly from the screen in the living room.

There are a few big names in the business who are almost exactly what they seem to be on TV. And Joel was one. Genuine and never too good for you and me, no matter how good he really was.

As cliché as it now sounds, nobody loved movies more than Joel. Nobody loved more to laugh or cry or stand up and cheer.

Me, I’ll miss the laughing.


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