Michael Gambon, who played Albus Dumbledore in six “Harry Potter” films, died at 82, his publicist announced Thursday. His family said through his publicist that he had died of pneumonia in the hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus by his side.
Gambon was easily recognized during his 50-year career because of his powerful voice. After Richard Harris’s death in 2002, he impersonated Dumbledore, not having read J.K. Rowling’s books, as it seemed best to him to be guided by a script. However, he personified Professor Dumbledore, the mighty wizard protecting his students from evil.
Playing Dumbledore made Gambon world-famous, but he had already been one of Britain’s top actors. Among his many roles in television, theatre, and film were “Gosford Park,” “The King’s Speech,” and “Paddington.”
Gambon was knighted in 1998 for his dramatic contributions. Born in Ireland in 1940, he grew up in London with a father who was an engineer like his son would later be educated to become. Instead, Gambon switched to acting and debuted in Dublin’s “Othello.” In 1963, he played a major role in Laurence Olivier’s First National Theatre Company production of “Hamlet.”
Gambon, meanwhile, became a theatre superstar with his starring role in John Dexter’s “Life of Galileo.” Three Laurence Olivier awards and two Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards followed his extensive nominations.
Gambon played “villainous characters” as mobster Eddie Temple in “Layer Cake” and a Satanic crime boss in “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover.” In 2010, he portrayed King George V in “The King’s Speech,” while last year saw him lead J.K. Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy.”
Gambon’s tearful 2015 retirement from the stage due to trouble remembering lines in front of an audience After marrying Anne Miller and having Fergus, he had two boys with set designer Philippa Hart. He kept his private life low-key.