Actor Michael Gambon, best known for playing Albus Dumbledore in most of the “Harry Potter” films, has died at the age of 82 following “pneumonia,” a statement issued on behalf of his family said Thursday, PA Media news agency reported .
“We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon,” said the statement issued by his publicist Clair Dobbs, according to the PA.
“Dear husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside following pneumonia. Michael was 82.”
“We ask that you respect our privacy during this painful time and thank you for your messages of support and love.”
Gambon was known for his extensive catalog of work across television, film and radio, with another of his biggest roles being the psoriasis-stricken scout in the 1980s hit series “The Singing Detective”.
One of the leading thespians of his generation, Gambon was born in Cabra, Dublin, but moved to London as a child. He grew up in an Irish immigrant community in Camden and his first job was as an apprentice toolmaker. He developed a lifelong passion for antique guns, watches and classic cars.
“I’ve always been an obsessive collector of things,” he told a Guardian interviewer in 2004. “Richard Briers collects stamps. I collect cars and guns, which are much more expensive and much harder to store.”
Michael Gambon, pictured in 2016, has died aged 82.
Apprenticed as a toolmaker, Gambon studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and made his professional stage debut in Dublin’s Gate Theater production of “Othello” (1962).
He caught the attention of actor Laurence Olivier, who hired him to join the newly formed National Theater Company. Four years later, Gambon joined the Birmingham Repertory Company and finally played the title role in his favorite Shakespeare play.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that Gambon became a household name, playing the lead character Philip Marlow in the 1986 Anglo-American public television miniseries “The Singing Detective”.
In 1990 he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Eight years later he was knighted for services to drama.
But it was as Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore in the “Harry Potter” film series that Gambon will perhaps be best remembered, a role he took on after the death of Richard Harris in 2002. In all, Gambon was cast as Dumbledore in six of the eight “Harry Potter “-movie.
Rupert Grint, who played Ron Weasley in the series, paid tribute to Gambon in a post on Instagram.
“So sad to hear about Michael. He brought so much warmth and mischief to every day on set,” Grint wrote. “He captivated me as a child and became my personal role model for finding the fun and eccentric in life.”
James Phelps, who played Ron’s brother Fred Weasley in the “Harry Potter” film franchise, posted a tribute to Gambon on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday.
“Very sad to hear of Michael Gambon’s passing. He was, on and off camera, a legend,” Phelps wrote.
“He was always very funny and very forthcoming in sharing all the knowledge he had,” Phelps added, describing a fond memory he had working with the veteran actor between filming the sixth “Harry Potter” film.
Murray Close/©Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection
Michael Gambon in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”.
And Fiona Shaw, who played Potter’s aunt Petunia Dursley in the films, told the BBC that Gambon “varied his career remarkably.”
Shaw also said Gambon was a “gun maker” who always said “he could fool the V&A [museum] to believe they were 18th century weapons.”
“So I want to think of him as a trickster, just a brilliant, magnificent trickster, but with text there was nothing like him, he could do anything.”
Helen Mirren also paid tribute to Gambon in an interview with the BBC, recalling his sense of humour.
“Naughty but very, very funny,” she said. “He kept me constantly laughing.”
Mirren also called Gambon an “instinctive actor” who made an “extraordinary contribution to the British theater landscape.”
During his career, Gambon won several awards for Best Actor at the British Academy Television Awards (BAFTA) and was nominated for two Emmy Awards.