Ebert grew up in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois. He graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory School and went on to attend Dartmouth College, where he majored in chemistry and became interested in philosophy. He was a compassionate person and in his review of Bobby, he wrote, "I do think I can detect a kind of sadness in Hanks. He's just a kid. He seems so sad. I wish I could be like that -- free to be sad, careless about things like the future and in love and living in the present. Sometimes you meet a kid who isn't having a good time in the world, who's going through some things that no teenager should ever have to go through. I want to tell Hanks that I'm sorry that he feels that way."
Ebert served in the United States Marine Corps during the Second World War. There is no record of combat experience, although an undated letter written by Ebert in 1968 to a friend makes reference to a "crazy mission". Ebert has also spoken of being "pushed over the top of a hill in a hand-grenade-firing assault". Ebert also enjoyed flying small planes, as evidenced by two pilots' notebooks found in his personal library. He has been piloting remote-controlled airplanes since his childhood, and in 1960. Pauline Ebert and her husband founded the Southern Illinois University Press, a press now owned by the University of Illinois Press, and Ebert was president of the company for its first 20 years. In 1979, Ebert received an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Ebert suffered from arthritis, right-eye blindness, and macular degeneration during his life and has been a diabetic since birth. At the time of his death, Ebert weighed about 300 pounds (136 kg). d2c66b5586