Michael Gambon, the veteran actor best remembered for his portrayal of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in six of the eight ‘Harry Potter’ films, died on Thursday, according to his publicist. He was 82.
According to a statement sent by his publicist, he died as a result of "a bout of pneumonia."
“We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon. Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside,” his family issued the statement.
Michael Gambon's deep and drawling tones were instantly recognised no matter what part he took on in a career spanning more than five decades. After the death of his predecessor, Richard Harris, in 2002, he was cast as the much-loved Dumbledore.
He once admitted to not having read any of J. K. Rowling's best-selling books, believing that it was safer to stick to the screenplay than to be affected by the books. That didn't stop him from channelling the spirit of Professor Dumbledore, a great wizard who fought evil in order to protect his students.
Despite the fact that the Potter role elevated Gambon's international fame and introduced him to a new generation of fans, he had long been regarded as one of Britain's leading actors. His career encompassed television, theatre, and radio, and he appeared in scores of films, including ‘Gosford Park’, ‘The King's Speech’, and the animated family picture ‘Paddington.’
Gambon, who was born in Ireland on October 19, 1940, was reared in London and initially educated as an engineer, following in the footsteps of his father. In a staging of ‘Othello’ in Dublin, he made his on-stage debut.
In 1963, he landed his first major role in ‘Hamlet,’ the National Theatre Company's inaugural production, directed by the famous Laurence Olivier.
Gambon quickly rose to prominence on the stage, receiving critical acclaim for his major role in John Dexter's ‘Life of Galileo.’ He was frequently nominated for prizes and won three Laurence Olivier awards as well as two Critics' Circle Theatre prizes.
Gambon, a multi-talented actor, received four prestigious British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards for his television work.
He rose to prominence in the United Kingdom after playing the lead in Dennis Potter's 1986 BBC series ‘The Singing Detective,’ which is regarded as a classic of British television drama. Gambon received a BAFTA for finest actor in the part.
Gambon was a skilled actor who reportedly told the BBC that he preferred playing "villainous characters." He portrayed gangster Eddie Temple in the British crime thriller ‘Layer Cake,’ which the New York Times described as "reliably excellent," and a Satanic criminal lord in Peter Greenaway's ‘The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and her Lover.’
In 2010, he played King George V in the drama film ‘The King's Speech.’ In 2015, he returned to J.K. Rowling's works, starring in the TV adaptation of her novel ‘The Casual Vacancy.’
Gambon withdrew from the theatre in 2015, citing difficulty remembering his lines in front of an audience as a result of his growing age. "It's a horrible thing to admit, but I can't do it," he once told the Sunday Times Magazine. It hurts my heart."
When it came to his personal life, the actor was always guarded. Fergus was his son from his marriage to Anne Miller. He later married set designer Philippa Hart and had two boys.