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Wands up. Celebrated screen and stage actor Sir Michael Gambon dies aged 82

Actor Sir Michael Gambon, best known for his role as Dumbledore in Harry Potter, has died
Actor Sir Michael Gambon, best known for his role as Dumbledore in Harry Potter, has died Copyright Warner Bros.
Copyright Warner Bros.
By David MouriquandAP
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Raise your wands. The screen and stage legend won Oliviers, BAFTAs and Emmys in his six-decades-long career. “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn the light on.”


Veteran actor Sir Michael Gambon has died peacefully in hospital aged 82, according to his family.

He is best known for playing Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in six of the eight Harry Potter films. He was cast as the much-loved character after the death of his predecessor, Richard Harris, in 2002.

A family statement said "we are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon", adding: "Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside, following a bout of pneumonia."

Joel Ryan / AP
Michael Gambon arrives in Trafalgar Square for the World Premiere of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 - 2011Joel Ryan / AP

No matter what role he took on in a career that lasted more than five decades, Gambon was always instantly recognizable by the deep and drawling tones of his voice. 

Although the Potter role raised Gambon’s international profile and introduced him to a new generation of fans, he had long been recognized as one of Britain’s leading actors. His work spanned TV, theater and radio, and he starred in dozens of films from The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, The InsiderGosford Park to The Life Aquatic with Steve ZissouHail, Caesar!The King’s Speech, and the animated family movie Paddington.

Gambon was knighted for services to drama in 1998.

John Raoux/AP
Members of the cast of the Harry Potter films -inlcuding Gambon, second from left - at the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando theme park -2010John Raoux/AP

Born in Ireland on 19 October 1940, Gambon was raised in London and originally trained as an engineer, following in the footsteps of his father. He made his theater debut in a production of “Othello” in Dublin.

In 1963, he got his first big break with a minor role in “Hamlet,” the National Theatre Company’s opening production, under the directorship of the legendary Laurence Olivier.

Gambon soon became a distinguished stage actor and received critical acclaim for his leading performance in “Life of Galileo” directed by John Dexter. He was frequently nominated for awards, and won the Laurence Olivier award 3 times and the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards twice.

A multi-talented actor, Gambon was also the recipient of four coveted British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards for his television work.

He became a household name in Britain after his lead role in the 1986 BBC series The Singing Detective, written by Dennis Potter and considered a classic of British television drama. Gambon won the BAFTA for best actor for the role.

Peter Kramer/AP
Michael Gambon attends the premiere of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - New York - 2009Peter Kramer/AP

Gambon was versatile as an actor but once told the BBC of his preference for playing “villainous characters.” He played gangster Eddie Temple in the British crime thriller Layer Cake and a Satanic crime boss in Peter Greenaway's excellent The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.

In 2015 he returned to the works of J.K. Rowling, taking a leading role in the TV adaptation of her book 'The Casual Vacancy.'

Gambon retired from the stage in 2015 after struggling to remember his lines in front of an audience due to his advancing age. He once told the Sunday Times Magazine: “It’s a horrible thing to admit, but I can’t do it. It breaks my heart.”

Tributes to the late actor poured in online: 

The actor was always protective when it came to his private life. He married Anne Miller and they had one son, Fergus. He later had two sons with set designer Philippa Hart.

Michael Gambon - 1940-2023

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