Sir Michael Gambon has died aged 82.

It has been announced Gambon died due to pneumonia in Witham, Essex on September 27.

The accomplished Irish-born actor played Professor Albus Dumbledore in six Harry Potter films, succeeding Richard Harris.

However, before ever entering Hogwarts, Gambon had an almost six decade career across film, television and theatre.

Early Life

He was born in Cabra, Dublin in 1940 and moved to Mornington Crescent in Camden Town aged six.

As a teenager, Gambon attended St Aloysius’ College in Highgate, whose other notable alumni includes Peter Sellers.

Mike Marsland/WireImage


At 24 years old, Gambon fabricated a CV describing a rich and wholly imaginary theatre career to be taken on at Dublin’s Gate Theatre.

Michael Gambon began his acting career by debuting in the Gate Theatre’s 1962 production of Othello.

He later caught the eye of Laurence Olivier, who recruited Gambon to be part of his new National Theatre company.

Throughout Gambon’s long theatre career, he played the title roles in productions such as Othello, Macbeth and Coriolanus.


Continuing the Othello trend, Gambon made his film debut in Olivier’s 1965 film of the same name. While he played a minor role, the cast also included Maggie Smith and Sir Derek Jacobi.

Michael Gambon Dumbledore
Warner Bros

Other notable Michael Gambon films include Gosford Park, Layer Cake, The King’s Speech, The Book of Eli and Turtle Diary, among many others.

Gambon first played Professor Dumbledore in 2004’s Prisoner of Azkaban and kept the role until Deathly Hallows, Part 2, the final film in the Harry Potter franchise.

On his role as Dumbledore, Gambon once said:

“Well, I don’t have to play anyone really. I just stick on a beard and play me, so it’s no great feat. I never ease into a role – every part I play is just a variant of my own personality. I’m not really a character actor at all.”

Michael Gambon, (2007)

Gambon also made his mark on television. He played the title role in BBC’s The Singing Detective and won a BAFTA for the performance.

He also portrayed Jules Maigret in a 1990s adaptation, coincidentally also succeeding Richard Harris in that role.

In more recent years, Gambon appeared on popular BBC motoring show Top Gear. The final corner of the show’s test track was renamed in his honour.

Michael Gambon premiere
Mike Marsland/WireImage

In 2015, Gambon appeared in miniseries The Casual Vacancy, an adaptation of JK Rowling’s 2012 novel.

His final television role was in horror series Fortitude, where he played Henry Tyson for ten episodes.


Several actors paid tribute to Gambon after his death was announced.

David Thewlis, who played Remus Lupin in Harry Potter, wrote:

“Simply the greatest actor of stage and screen I ever worked with. I met him at the very start of my career on The Singing Detective and many many times throughout.

“The true highlight and honour was filming Beckett’s Endgame with him. He was the funniest of men, the finest storyteller, and so very kind and generous.

“If you only know him as Dumbledore then do yourself a favour and pay your respects by seeking out his other work. You will be the richer for it.

“He was in my opinion the giant of them all. Goodnight Michael, I feel beyond privileged to have known and loved you.”

David Thewlis, Instagram (@officialdavidthewlis)

Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley in the films, also shared a tribute to Gambon.

“I was forever in awe of Michael’s presence and performance. His deep mischievous voice between scenes would vibrate through the Great Hall.

“He was Dumbledore through and through a constant, warm and guiding figure.

“Rest in peace Michael. Sending love to your family ❤️”

Bonnie Wright, Instagram (@thisisbwright)

Wright’s onscreen brother James Phelps, who played Fred Weasley, also paid his own respects to the late actor.

“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.”

“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, “‘ve done that, let’s got through it and if you like I can give 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”

James Phelps, Instagram (@jamesphelps_pictures)

Game of Thrones actress Lena Headey, who played Cersei Lannister, shared her respects on Instagram.

“Michael, you had such an impact on me. My favorite thing about the job we did was going to the pub with you and listening to your stories, I would cry with laughter.

“Kind and wise and eloquent, charming and authentic. Watching those amazing hands swirl around whilst you talked. The best.

“I feel so lucky to have had some time with you. Hope you have a pint in your hand ❤️

Lena Headey, Instagram (@iamlenaheadey)

Pretty Little Liars actor Julian Morris, who played Wren Kingston, wrote:

“Loved every moment I got to spend with this exceptional man.

Thanks for all the humour and wisdom, Michael. I’ll treasure our breakfast chats in Dún Laoghaire always 💙”

Julian Morris, Instagram (@julianmorris)

Follow writer Conor O’Brien on Twitter

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