‘Beloved’ actor Sir Michael Gambon dies aged 82

Actor Sir Michael Gambon has died peacefully in hospital, aged 82, his family has said.

The Dublin-born star of the stage and screen, who has won four TV Baftas, is known for his extensive back catalogue of work across TV, film, radio and theatre over a career spanning five decades.

In recent years he played Albus Dumbledore in six of the eight Harry Potter films.

Sir Michael’s entrance as the headmaster of the wizarding school Hogwarts came following the death of fellow Irish actor Richard Harris.

Harris died in 2002 at the age of 72 after starring in the first two films in the franchise and Sir Michael then portrayed the character from Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban through to Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 UK Film Premiere – London
Michael Gambon arriving for the world premiere of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

Sir Michael is known for playing French detective Jules Maigret in ITV series Maigret in 1992 and 1993, and for his 1986 role as Philip Marlow in Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective.

Harris had also played the fictional detective in an earlier ITV adaption of the novels by Maigret writer Georges Simenon.

A statement issued on behalf of Lady Gambon and son Fergus Gambon 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.”

Sir Michael made his first appearance on stage in a production of Othello at the Gates Theatre, Dublin in 1962 when he returned to Ireland following his move to the UK.

He was knighted for his contribution to the entertainment industry in 1998.

He put in a memorable performance in the BBC’s 2015 adaptation of JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy and his illustrious theatre career includes appearances in Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests, The Life Of Galileo and Nicholas Hytner’s National Theatre production of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2.

In 2016 he appeared as Private Godfrey in the big screen adaptation of Dad’s Army, and his other film roles included period dramas such as 2010’s The King’s Speech, 2001’s Gosford Park and 2017’s Victoria & Abdul.

Sir Michael was also recognised by American awards with Emmy nominations for Mr Woodhouse in 2010 for an adaption of Jane Austen’s Emma and as former US president Lyndon B Johnson in Path To War in 2002.

King of Thieves World Premiere – London
Sir Michael Gambon. (Ian West/PA)

His turn in David Hare play Skylight, about the fallout of an affair, also led to a Tony nod in 1997 and earlier in 1990 he secured an Olivier Award for comedy performance of the year for diplomatic comedy Man Of The Moment at the Globe, now the Gielgud Theatre.

While speaking about the series The Casual Vacancy, in which he plays the cunning chairman on the parish council, Sir Michael said he was “quite good” at villainous characters as there is “more meat” on them.

He also said: “I’ve been an actor for so many years now; the only people I ever meet are actors and kindred spirits. My whole world is actors, really. We’re all very nice.”

Sir Michael also appeared in psychological drama Cordelia and Judy Garland biopic Judy, both released in 2019, crime drama King Of Thieves alongside Sir Michael Caine and Jim Broadbent in 2018, and action movie Kingsman: The Golden Circle in 2017.

The Bafta gongs went to his main acting roles for family BBC drama Perfect Strangers in 2002, as a clockmaker hoping to win a prize in Channel 4’s Longitude in 2001, BBC Elizabeth Gaskell adaption Wives And Daughters in 2000 and BBC serial The Singing Detective in 1987.

He also had parts in director Wes Anderson comedy films 2004’s The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and 2009’s Fantastic Mr Fox.