Everybody Loves Roger

Chicago Magazine ran a profile on a writer who is often more famous than his movie star subjects, Roger Ebert. Here’s a bit about the olden daze.

“After work, the gathering place in those days was a bar called O’Rourke’s, a hangout with the look of a shabby Irish pub. The typical slog went from the newspaper office to Riccardo’s for dinner and drinks, to O’Rourke’s until closing at 2 a.m., then down North Avenue a block to the Old Town Ale House, which stayed open until four. The trek became known as the Bermuda Triangle. “Night after night, year after year, all the time,” says Ebert, whose drinking crew included Zonka, Galloway, and John McHugh.

Ebert, who drank Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch, could finish off a bottle by himself. Later, when he worried that he might be drinking too much, he told Galloway that he had his drinking under control—the night before, he had consumed only 15 highballs.

The more Ebert drank, the jollier he became. “He might just start singing or reciting a poem,” recalls Marshall Rosenthal, who was then working as a reporter at the Chicago Daily News. Ebert and McHugh would quote Yeats, sometimes in unison, and Ebert would also compose limericks. When he stuck his hand in his pocket and pulled out a rumpled carbon copy, the regulars knew that he was about to read them his review for the next day.”