On Thursday, the family of esteemed actor Michael Gambon, renowned for his portrayal of Professor Albus Dumbledore in multiple “Harry Potter” films, announced his passing in a statement. The beloved actor was 82 years old at the time of his demise.
In the statement, issued on behalf of Gambon’s wife, Anne, and their son Fergus by publicist Clair Dobbs, the family expressed their devastation over the loss. They revealed that Gambon had “died peacefully in hospital” after battling pneumonia, with his loved ones by his side. The family also requested privacy during this difficult time and expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support and love from well-wishers.
Born on October 19, 1940, in Dublin to a seamstress mother and an engineer father, Gambon embarked on an unconventional path. He left school at the age of 15, and after seven years of apprenticeship, he qualified as an engineer. However, the allure of the stage, fueled by inspiration from a local theater group, ultimately drew him away from engineering. In the early 1960s, he took his first professional steps in the world of theater.
In 1962, the legendary Shakespearean actor Laurence Olivier selected Gambon as one of the founding members of the National Theatre at London’s Old Vic, alongside emerging talents like Derek Jacobi and Maggie Smith. Gambon’s career flourished on stage, leading to roles in television and film.
One of his standout performances came in 1986 with “The Singing Detective,” where he portrayed a writer plagued by a crippling skin condition, finding solace in his vivid imagination. The role catapulted him to stardom in the UK.
His diverse filmography included a memorable turn as a deranged mob leader in “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover” (1989), the portrayal of an elderly King George V in “The King’s Speech” (2010), and Lord Salisbury in “Victoria & Abdul” (2017). Gambon also lent his talent to Wes Anderson’s comedic films “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou” (2004) and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009).
Gambon was a frequent nominee for awards, boasting three Olivier Awards and two Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards. His television work earned him four British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards. In recognition of his contributions to drama, he was knighted in 1998.
While he played a myriad of iconic roles, Gambon is best remembered internationally for his portrayal of Dumbledore in the “Harry Potter” franchise. He assumed the role starting with the third installment of the eight-movie series after the passing of Richard Harris. Despite his global recognition, Gambon once confessed to not having read any of J.K. Rowling’s best-selling books.
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Tributes poured in following the news of his passing. Jared Harris, the son of Richard Harris, hailed Gambon as a “brilliant actor” who lived on indelibly in his memory. Actor James Phelps, who portrayed Fred Weasley in the “Harry Potter” films, described Gambon as a legend.
Gambon retired from the stage in 2015, citing struggles with line memorization due to his advancing age. Known for his fiercely guarded private life, he was married to Anne Miller, and together they had a son, Fergus. He is also survived by two sons from his previous marriage to set designer Philippa Hart.