Acclaimed actor Sir Michael Gambon has died, aged 82, it has been confirmed. He passed away in hospital after contracting pneumonia.
He was best-known for playing Albus Dumbledore in all but two of the Harry Potter film series – as well as countless other titles across film and television including the part of a psychotic gangster in Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989), and King George V in Oscar-winning drama The King’s Speech in 2010.
A statement issued on behalf of his family said: “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.
“We ask that you respect our privacy at this painful time and thank you for your messages of support and love.”
Born in 1940, Gambon began his career on stage during the 1960s as one of the original members of the Royal National Theatre, frequently appearing alongside legendary actor Laurence Olivier. He went on to enjoy six decades of success in the industry, winning three Olivier Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and four BAFTAs. He was knighted for services to the entertainment industry in 1998.
Despite his skill and success, it wasn’t until he replaced the late Richard Harris as wizard and Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in the Potter movies that he became a widely recognisable mainstream name though. He appeared in six of the eight instalments, beginning with Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban in 2004. More recently, he acted in popular Sky series Fortitude, a crime drama set in the Arctic Circle, and Judy Garland biopic Judy in 2019. His final role was in horror thriller Cordelia, which also came out in 2019.
Sir Michael Gambon with the cast of Harry Potter in 2011. CREDIT: Getty
Tributes to the much-loved actor have been flooding in.
Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe paid tribute in a statement to Variety, describing him as one of “the most brilliant, effortless actors”.
“With the loss of Michael Gambon the world just became considerably less fun,” Radcliffe said. “Michael Gambon was one of the most brilliant, effortless actors I’ve ever had the privilege of working with, but despite his immense talent, the thing I will remember most about him is how much fun he had doing his job. He was silly, irreverent and hilarious. He loved his job, but never seemed defined by it.
“He was an incredible story and joke teller and his habit of blurring the lines of fact and fiction when talking to journalists meant that he was also one of the most entertaining people with whom you could ever wish to do a press junket.”
He added: “The sixth film was where I got to spend the most time working with Michael and he made the hours spent in front of a green screen together more memorable and joyous than they had any right to be. I’m so sad to hear he has passed, but I am so grateful for the fact that I am one of the lucky people who got to work with him.”
Former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, who welcomed the actor on to the show during a memorable segment, wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter): “I’m so sad to hear that Michael Gambon has died. He was hugely amusing, and such a tremendous guest, we even named a corner after him.”
I’m so sad to hear that Michael Gambon has died. He was hugely amusing, and such a tremendous guest, we even named a corner after him.
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) September 28, 2023
Elsewhere, The Inbetweeners actor Blake Harrison also paid tribute: “The funniest actor I’ve ever worked with. My lunch breaks on Dad’s Army were spent wanting to hear story after story from him. A phenomenal actor.”
The funniest actor I’ve ever worked with. My lunch breaks on Dad’s Army were spent wanting to hear story after story from him. A phenomenal actor.
RIP Sir Michael Gambon https://t.co/WfzaST5JLR
— blake harrison (@blakeharrison23) September 28, 2023
James Phelps who played Hogwarts student Fred Weasley in the Harry Potter franchise, shared his memories of being on set with Gambon on X (Twitter):
“Whilst shooting HP6 I worked on the AD department for the whole shoot (apart from the days I was acting). And for that reason I spent many hours with Michael during the shoot…
“He was always very funny and very welcoming to share any knowledge he had.
“One day we were shooting Dumbledore’s final clock tower scene, obviously quite an intense scene. In between set-ups Michael asked what I was up to that weekend. As it happened my brother and I were reading Peter and the Wolf with the Manchester Halle Orchestra.
“‘Do you have the script with you?’ He asked, I did, ‘I’ve done that, let’s go through it and if you like I can give you some notes.’”
“So we spent what should have been his downtime going over my weekend gig. It is a memory I’ve always had as one of the highlights of my HP days.”
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 pic.twitter.com/4M6E6inWMy
— James Phelps (@James_Phelps) September 28, 2023
Actress Fiona Shaw, who played Harry Potter’s neglectful aunt, Petunia Dursley, in the Harry Potter series has also paid tribute to her co-star.
“I will remember him because he was also a gun maker, he could he could make guns, he always said he could fool the V&A into believing that they were 18th century guns,” she told BBC Radio 4.
“So I will think of him as a trickster, just brilliant, magnificent trickster, but with text, there was nothing like him, he could do anything.”
Jason Isaacs, who co-starred with Gambon in Harry Potter, said he owed his acting awakening to the late star’s famous BBC miniseries The Singing Detective.
“Magnificent Michael Gambon has died,” Isaacs wrote on X (Twitter). “I learned what acting could be from Michael in The Singing Detective – complex, vulnerable and utterly human. The greatest thrill of being in the Potter films was that he knew my name and shared his fearless, filthy sense of fun with me.”
Magnificent Michael Gambon has died. I learned what acting could be from Michael in The Singing Detective – complex, vulnerable and utterly human. The greatest thrill of being in the Potter films was that he knew my name and shared his fearless, filthy sense of fun with me.
— Jason Isaacs (@jasonsfolly) September 28, 2023