CHICAGO (ABC News) -- Family, friends and fans gathered this morning at the Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago for the funeral of famed movie critic Roger Ebert.
A choir singing, “God has smiled on me, he has set me free,” accompanied the solemn procession up the main aisle. The Chicago Tribune reported that Ebert’s wife, Chaz, her face covered by a black veil, walked behind the coffin toward the altar, while dozens of her husband’s relatives and close friends followed behind.
Chaz was expected to speak at the funeral as well as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Ebert died April 4, following a 10-year battle with cancer and just a day after announcing on his blog that he was taking a “leave of presence” and “reviewing only the movies I want to review” after 46 years as a film critic.
Fans of the Pulitzer Prize-winning movie reviewer thronged the church — more than 70 had gathered before the doors opened — in hopes of getting a seat in the back pews available to the public. The Tribune said Ebert’s closest friends and relatives were given yellow wrist bands and were seated together in the front.
Many waited in lines in the lobby of Holy Name to sign a memorial book.
The public will have another opportunity to pay their respects. On Thursday, a memorial will be held at the Chicago Theater, where Ebert attended years of film screenings and a star with his name is embedded in the sidewalk beneath the grand marquee.
The evening will include music from Walt Whitman and the Soul Children of Chicago, moments from Ebert’s famed TV show “At the Movies” and personal tributes from his wife of 22 years and granddaughter Raven.
The memorial is expected to draw some famous faces from Hollywood. The public is being asked to reserve seats in advance.