After 40 years with the show, movie critic 84 year old Gene Shalit retired from The Today Show. His run on the show is among the longest of anyone in broadcast history. Indeed, he may well have been with Today longer than any other on the air personality.
Prior to his stint with Today, Mr. Shalit had been the senior movie critic for Look magazine and wrote the "What's Happening" column for Ladies Home Journal. He joined Today in 1970, replacing Joe Garagiola at the desk in 1973. He also wrote a daily radio essay for,"Man About Anything," for NBC Radio from 1969 to 1982. Mr. Shalit did not simply review movies for Today in his "Critic's Corner" segment, but he also reviewed books and plays, as well as covering everything from professional baseball to passenger trains. Reportedly Gene Shalit is not entirely retiring, but is leaving Today to "pursue other activities."
With his "Critic's Corner" on The Today Show, Gene Shalit became one of the most recognisable critics in the United States Even had it no been for his status as a regular contributor to Today, he would have been easily recognisable, with his curly hair, heavy glasses, handlebar moustache, and often colourful bowties.
My family having watched Today regularly when I was a child, Gene Shalit was the first movie critic to whom I was ever exposed. While I did not always agree with his reviews of movies (most notably, I disagreed with his review of Flash Gordon in 1980), I always understood why he liked or disliked any given film. And unlike some movie critics, Gene Shalit truly loves movies, a love which showed throughout every review he did for Today. He had an enthusiasm for film that only a few other critics possess. It is for this reason that I always enjoyed Mr. Shalit's reviews, as well as his extensive use of puns. While many of Mr. Shalit's puns were, well, bad, they were always funny.
Today will simply not be the same without Gene Shalit in his "Critic's Corner." And he will be a hard act to follow for any critic who takes his place. Gene Shalit was always one of the few critics whose opinion I value, and one of the few who seemed to share my love for film.