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Roger And Chaz Ebert’s Beautiful Marriage, In His Words

Roger Ebert, who passed away today at age 70, married Chaz Hammel-Smith on July 18, 1992. Upon their 20th anniversary last year, he wrote about his love for her.

In a blog post from last year, Ebert wrote passionately about his wife Chaz and their true-life love story. They met in the early ’90s, when Roger spotted her while out with mutual friends, and he was immediately attracted to her, finagling a way to get her card so he could invite her to the opera later that week. They wrote emails to each other, which he still had saved two decades later on an old computer, even though he could not access them. He proposed marriage in a café in Italy, and she said yes. He wrote about how she cared for him during his sickness, calling her “the great fact of my life.”

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“This woman never lost her love, and when it was necessary she forced me to want to live. She was always there believing I could do it, and her love was like a wind forcing me back from the grave.”

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“I didn’t know her, but I’d seen her before and was attracted. I liked her looks, her voluptuous figure, and the way she presented herself. She took a lot of care with her appearance and her clothes never looked quickly thrown together. She seemed to be holding the attention of her table. You never get anywhere with a woman you can’t talk intelligently with.”

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“Her love letters were poetic, idealistic and often passionate. I responded as a man and a lover. As a newspaperman, I observed she never, ever, made a copy-reading error. I saved every one of her letters along with my own, and have them encrypted on my computer, locked inside a file where I can’t reach them because the program and the operating system are now 20 years out of date. But they’re in there. I’m not about to entrust them to anyone at the Apple Genius Counter.”

Bryan Bedder / Getty Images

“She was there every day, visiting me in the hospital whether I knew it or not, becoming an expert on my problems and medications, researching possibilities, asking questions, making calls, even giving little Christmas and Valentine’s Day baskets to my nurses, who she knew by name.”

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“In the hospital, day after day, she was my staff of strength. In the rehabilitations she cheered me through every faltering step, and when I looked at a flight of three steps I was intended to climb, it was her will that helped me lift my feet. To visit a hospital is not pleasant. To do it hundreds of times is heroic.”

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“She has more faith in me than I do.”

Fred Thornhill / Reuters

“I sensed from the first that Chaz was the woman I would marry, and I know after 20 years that my feelings were true. She has been with me in sickness and in health, certainly far more sickness than we could have anticipated.”

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“I will be with her, strengthened by her example. She continues to make my life possible, and her presence fills me with love and a deep security. That’s what a marriage is for. Now I know.”

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

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