Jeff Shannon, a Seattle-based movie critic and journalist died Dec. 20, 2013 in Edmonds, Wash., due to complications from pneumonia. He was 52.
A Seattle native, Shannon became a quadriplegic in 1979 after a diving accident in Hawaii. He studied film history at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, before beginning his career as a film reviewer and entertainment reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 1985. He’s been a movie critic for The Seattle Times since 1992.
Shannon wrote and contributed to articles about disability-related issues for New Mobility magazine. Tim Gilmer, New Mobility editor, worked with Shannon over a decade and says he was skilled at writing about disability portrayals in the media with an unbiased view.
“He bent over backwards to make sure that our readers knew not only what we were saying about a topic but what the non-disabled readers would say about a topic,“ says Gilmer. “He wanted the full truth to be known.”
His 2005 review of Million Dollar Baby and interview with director Clint Eastwood in New Mobility brought Shannon national recognition. Shannon noted the concern of the disability community but he also paid homage to the powerful and masterful storytelling of Eastwood. The publicity of the piece led to a lengthy professional relationship with the late Roger Ebert.
In 2011, Shannon became a contributor for RogerEbert.com. Matt Zoller Seitz, the editor-in-chief of RogerEbert.com, credits Shannon with making unique contributions to the site. “He was a gifted writer and fiercely independent man, and his aesthetic opinions often intertwined with his life experience in ways that made him unique, and uniquely important,” he says.
A memorial service for Shannon will be held at a later date.