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'Good Morning America' movie critic Joel Siegel dies of cancer

Saturday, June 30, 2007

NEW YORK -- Joel Siegel, a longtime movie critic for "Good Morning America" who was famous for his weekly, often humorous reviews, died Friday, ABC officials said. He was 63.

Siegel, who got his start at the network by working for New York affiliate WABC-TV, had battled colon cancer, the station said.

Siegel was known for his sense of humor, movie acumen and sharp judgment. He never let an actor off the hook if the performance was lackluster.

"The appeal of Matthew McConaughey has long evaded me both as a pinup and as an actor," Siegel said in his review of 2006's "We Are Marshall." "His constant ticks, bad hair and strained syntax as a coach fumble what should have been the tragic and inspirational story of the rebuilding of Marshall University's football team after a devastating plane crash."

Dave Davis, president and general manager of WABC-TV, said Siegel loved to poke fun at uninspiring movies.

"No one had more fun writing about a bad movie than Joel," Davis said.

ABC anchor Charles Gibson said Siegel knew how to tell a story.

"He had an inexhaustible supply of stories -- most funny, many poignant, all with a point or a punch line," Gibson said.

Born in Los Angeles on July 7, 1943, Siegel graduated cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles. After college, he started writing for The Los Angeles Times, where he reviewed books.

He landed in New York City in 1972 and worked as a reporter for WCBS-TV. He also hosted "Joel Siegel's New York" on WCBS Radio. Four years later he jumped to WABC, cementing his reputation as a film critic over the next three decades.

In 1981, he joined "Good Morning America" and became a regular as the network's entertainment editor, easily recognizable by his thick mustache and glasses.

In addition to five New York Emmy Awards, he received a public-service award from the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, and was honored by the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association for general excellence in individual reporting.

Survivors include his son, Dylan, and wife, Ena Swansea.


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