The Today Show bids Gene Shalit a fond farewell

Nov 11, 2010 at 12:34 p.m. ET

Movie critic Gene Shalit is retiring from his 41-year on-air career. What past and present Today Show anchors showed up to give a fond farewell to the legendary reviewer?

Film critic Gene Shalit is officially retiring from on-air interviews on NBC's Today Show. Today Show personalities past and present were on hand Thursday to honor the lengendary critic, but one person was mysteriously absent -- Gene Shalit!

Gene Shalit retires from the Today Show

The eccentric film critic hasn't reviewed a movie on-air since Shrek Forever After in May and didn't want to cause a big fuss with his departure. Fat chance -- Tom Brokaw, Jane Pauley, Bryant Gumbel, Katie Couric and Willard Scott, along with current hosts Meredith Vieira, Matt Lauer and Al Roker, toasted the 84-year-old with their fondest memories.

Shalit's 41-year career undoubtedly inspired countless young entertainment journalists to try their hands as a critic. Why? Because he made it look easy. The bushy hair, cartoonish mustache and jovial manner showed aspiring critics that you don't have to be mean to review a movie. It's that positive style that earned him the long career while countless others have fizzled out.

Plus, his exit from on-air work signals the end of an era -- gone are the days when movie buffs could get their reviews from trusted critics like Shalit and Siskel & Ebert. Now, it's all about Rotten Tomatoes and online reviews.

Shalit will reportedly still continue reviewing movies online through his website. Will we ever see him on camera again? It's not likely, but we'd love to see that animated face on our airwaves at least one more time, for nostalgia's sake.

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