Harry Potter's 'Dumbledore' Has Died at 82

BAFTA-winning 'Harry Potter' actor Michael Gambon passes away after bout with pneumonia
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2023 9:25 AM CDT
Harry Potter's 'Dumbledore' Has Died at 82
Actor Michael Gambon arrives in Trafalgar Square in London for the world premiere of "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2," on July 7, 2011.   (AP Photo/Joel Ryan, File)

When Richard Harris died in 2002, there were big shoes to fill as Albus Dumbledore, the role Harris played in the first two Harry Potter films. Now, the actor who kept the Hogwarts headmaster alive for six more movies in the franchise has also passed on. The family of Irish-born Michael Gambon announced Thursday that the 82-year-old died in the hospital after a bout with pneumonia, reports the BBC. The actor not only won four BAFTAs over the course of his 60-year career in film, theater, TV, and radio, but he also took home three Olivier Awards for his theater work in the UK and was also nominated for two Emmys and a Tony: the former for his roles in 2002's Path to War and 2009's Emma, and the latter for his performance in the play Skylight.

After studying to be an engineer, Gambon caught the acting bug and made his theater debut in a Dublin production of Othello. In 1963, he had a small role in the National Theatre's production of Hamlet, directed by Laurence Olivier, and he soon established himself as a "distinguished stage actor," per the AP. He gained even bigger fame when he starred in the British TV series The Singing Detective in the mid-'80s, and he went on to appear in a variety of films, including 1989's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, 2004's Layer Cake, and 2010's The King's Speech, in which he played King George V.

But it was Gambon's role as Hogwarts headmaster and powerful wizard Albus Dumbledore that put him on the map with American moviegoers, even though Gambon later admitted he'd never read any of the Harry Potter books written by JK Rowling. Gambon is said to have prepared for his roles meticulously, though one time he answered "I just do it" when asked by interviewers about his acting process, per the New York Times. "I'm very physical," he said at the time. "I want to know how the person looks, what his hair is like, the way he walks, the way he stands and sits ... The way your feet feel on the stage is important." Gambon is survived by his wife, Lady Gambon (also known as Ann Miller), with whom he shared a son, as well as two sons with set designer Philippa Hart, with whom he had a long extramarital affair. (More Michael Gambon stories.)

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