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Michael Gambon, Dumbledore actor in ‘Harry Potter,’ dies at 82

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Michael Gambon, the prestigious stage and film actor best known for playing the wise wizard Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter, has died. He was 82.

In a statement released Thursday, Gambon’s wife, Lady Anne Gambon, and his son, Fergus, said the actor died “peacefully.”

“We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon,” the statement reads. “Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside, following a bout of pneumonia.”

The family has asked for privacy during this “painful time,” and thanked Gambon’s admirers for their loving messages.

Gambon was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1940. He moved to London as a child and went on to apprentice as a toolmaker before attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

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Before donning a long, white beard to play Dumbledore for the first time in 2004’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Gambon already had an esteemed stage, TV and film career.

Gambon was tapped to take over the role of the Hogwarts’ headmaster in 2004 following the death of Richard Harris in October 2002. Harris played Dumbledore in the first two films in the Harry Potter franchise.

Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore in ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,’. Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection

Gambon was also well known for his role as Philip Marlow, the mystery writing sleuth with psoriasis from the 1980s British serial drama The Singing Detective. Though Gambon was already a growing titan in the theatre world — and starred in many of the Birmingham Repertory Company’s Shakespearean plays — The Singing Detective launched him to new levels of fame in the U.K.

Throughout his lifetime, Gambon was nominated for two Emmy Awards and won four BAFTA Awards, two Olivier Awards and a SAG Award for outstanding cast performance in The King’s Speech. 

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He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1990.

Already, tributes to Gambon have flooded social media from his friends, colleagues and dedicated fans.

James Phelps, who played Fred Weasley in the Harry Potter movies, said Gambon once helped him rehearse lines for an orchestral reading of Peter and the Wolf while the pair was working on the Harry Potter film set. Phelps said though Gambon should have been taking downtime from his “intense” clock tower death scene, he instead took the time to help Phelps.

“He was, on and off the camera, a legend,” Phelps wrote.

Very sorry to hear about the passing of Michael Gambon. He was, on and off the camera, a legend. Just a little memory of Michael

— James Phelps (@James_Phelps) September 28, 2023

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Very sorry to hear of the death of the great Sir Michael Gambon aged 82, here in an interview explaining why he didn’t like being interviewed. RIP Michael.

— John Pitchford🌹💙 (@Johnnypapa64) September 28, 2023

I was very young when the first 2 Harry Potter films were released so more or less grew up with Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. I watch all the HP films at least once a year & now, they’ll feel so different 💔

— Ben (@SMXLFC) September 28, 2023

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Crushed to just be reading about the passing of Michael Gambon. A tremendous actor, and one of the men whose work on screen shepherded me through my childhood. Also a feature in one of my all-time favourite behind the scenes clips, which I’ll add here! Rest easy 🤍

— Jordan King (@JordanMBKing) September 28, 2023

Gambon’s other memorable roles include William McCordle in Gosford Park, Albert in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, Lt. General Leland Zevo in Toys and Baltus Van Tassel in Sleepy Hollow.