Joel Siegel recently in Times Square

Joel Siegel, the upbeat and often joyous film critic for ABC television's "Good Morning America" for 26 years, died on Friday at age 63 after a long battle against colon cancer, the network said. Siegel, who was surrounded by family and friends when he died in New York, had stopped working just two weeks ago, and colleagues said he had maintained such a positive attitude that few people realized how sick he was, according to the network. He had been a regular fixture on "Good Morning America" since joining the broadcast in 1981. He previously reviewed films for ABC affiliates and other networks. His Friday movie reviews were a staple on "Good Morning America" and no matter how bad the film, it could not daunt Siegel's spirits.He delivered his pans and plaudits in a terse but witty style. Reviewing one popular film last year, he said: "'The Pursuit of Happyness'" gets a C for spelling and an A for acting. It could also get an Oscar for Will Smith."In a review of "Letters from Iwo Jima," he said the Japanese-language war drama was "the only contemporary film I've ever reviewed that I felt safe calling a masterpiece. It's not about the enemy, it's about humanity, and Clint Eastwood proves you don't have to understand the language to understand the heart."Of Matthew McConaughey in "We Are Marshall," he said the performer's appeal "has long evaded me both as a pinup and as an actor. His constant ticks, bad hair and strained syntax as a coach fumble what should have been the tragic and inspirational story of the rebuilding of Marshall University's football team after a devastating plane crash.""Joel was an important part of ABC News, and we will miss him," ABC News President David Westin said. "He was a brilliant reviewer and a great reporter. But much more, he was our dear friend and colleague. Our thoughts and prayers are with Joel's family."Siegel was outspoken about his battle with cancer, reporting on his illness, writing a book about it and lobbying on Capitol Hill on behalf of others afflicted with cancer. In 1991, Siegel and actor Gene Wilder founded Gilda's Club, named for Wilder's late wife, comedian Gilda Radner, a nonprofit organization offering emotional and social support for cancer patients and their families and friends.