The Big Picture
- Beloved actor Michael Gambon has passed away at 82 after battling pneumonia, leaving behind a legacy in both theater and film.
- Gambon’s career spanned six decades, with standout roles in films like The King’s Speech and collaborations with Wes Anderson.
- Although he had a successful career, Gambon’s most famous role came as Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise, playing the character from 2004 to 2011.
Michael Gambon, the legendary Irish actor who was beloved by millions worldwide for his performance as Professor Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise, has passed away at the age of 82 following a bout of pneumonia. His family confirmed the sad news in a statement this morning, saying:
“We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon. Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside, following a bout of pneumonia.”
Gambon’s career, spanning six decades, initially took flight on the theater stage, where he shared the spotlight with the legendary Laurence Olivier. He ventured into the world of cinema with his debut appearance in Othello in 1965. Over the years, his on-screen journey has been marked by terrific and, at times, intimidating roles, including notable films like Layer Cake, The Wings of the Dove, Gosford Park, The King’s Speech, as well as collaborations with director Wes Anderson in movies such as The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Fantastic Mr. Fox.
A Glittering Career
In 2002, Gambon received an Emmy nomination for his exceptional performance as the lead actor in the miniseries Path to War. He was also Emmy-nominated in the category of supporting actor in a miniseries or movie for his portrayal of Mr. Woodhouse in the 2009 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma a film featuring Romola Garai as the titular character. Throughout his career, Gambon earned recognition with four BAFTA TV Awards for Best Actor. His first win came for his pivotal role in the 1986 series The Singing Detective, which marked a turning point in his career. He subsequently received awards for his roles in Wives and Daughters in 1999, Longitude in 2000, and Perfect Strangers the following year, cementing his status as a celebrated actor in British television.
It was in early 2015 that Gambon, then 74, announced that he would be giving up the stage. “It’s a horrible thing to admit, but I can’t do it. It breaks my heart,” he told the Sunday Times, revealing he’d been forced into using an earpiece to try and have lines fed to him while auditioning. “And after about an hour, I thought, ‘This can’t work.’ You can’t be in theater, free on stage shouting and screaming and running around, with someone reading you your lines.”
The Headmaster of Hogwarts
Of course, Gambon’s most famous role came to him late in his career, when he assumed the role of Albus Dumbledore, the father figure to Harry Potter and Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Personally selected to take over the role in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban following the death of mentor Richard Harris by director Alfonso Cuarón, Gambon brought a more youthful energy to the character and played him from 2004 until the franchise’s conclusion in 2011 over the course of six movies. At the time, Cuaron said that Gambon was accepting the role, partly in tribute to Harris and “even kept a little Irish twist to his accent in a nod to Richard Harris.” Gambon viewed the role as a bit of fun in his latter years, stating that he was “essentially playing myself, dressed up in a costume. It’s just me!”
In 1962, he tied the knot with Anne Miller, and in 1964, they welcomed their first child, Fergus. Fergus received some of his education from his father and later made appearances as an expert on the BBC rendition of Antiques Roadshow. In 2002, he began a relationship with Philippa Hart, with whom he had two more sons, born in 2007 and 2009. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.