Eliot Wald, a comedic writer who was best known for creating the movie critic team of Siskel & Ebert, died on July 12 of liver cancer. He was 57.
Wald began his writing career at The Seed, an underground newspaper in Chicago. He moved on to freelance as a radio/television critic and rock music writer for local newspapers.
In 1975, Wald took a job as a producer for WTTW Channel 11, where he developed the program, “Coming Soon to a Theater Near You.” With a meager $500 budget, Wald paired Tribune film critic Gene Siskel with Roger Ebert of the Sun-Times in a tiny studio where they could face off on the latest Hollywood releases. The show became such a hit that it was eventually syndicated and retitled “Siskel & Ebert.”
Wald moved to New York in the 1980s to write for “Saturday Night Live.” He also funneled his love of comedy into movies, co-writing the screenplays for “See No Evil, Hear No Evil,” starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, and “Camp Nowhere,” starring Christopher Lloyd.
In a 1994 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Wald said he had the perfect job. “I sit on a couch and make jokes,” he said.