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SYFY WIRE obituary

Michael Gambon, Actor Who Played Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter Films, Dead at 82

Gambon famously inherited the role of Hogwarts headmaster from the late Richard Harris.

By Josh Weiss
Michael Gambon wears a suit and bow tie.

Sir Michael Gambon, the Irish actor who played wizened and inscrutable Hogwarts headmaster Professor Albus Dumbledore in six of the Harry Potter films, has died at the age of 82. Gambon famously inherited the role of Dumbledore from the late Richard Harris, starting with 2004's Prisoner of Azkaban.

"We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon," his family said in a statement (via Variety). "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 are incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of Sir Michael Gambon," added the official Potter account on X (formerly known as Twitter). "He brought immeasurable joy to Harry Potter fans from all over the world with his humor, kindness, and grace. We will forever hold his memory in our hearts."

When asked about the challenge of taking on the part of Dumbledore from Richard Harris during an interview in 2010, Gambon stated that he was not beholden to any preconceived expectations.

"No one ever spoke to me about it. Not a word," he said. "On the first film I did, which was directed by Alfonso Cuaron, I walked in there and I'm naturally Irish and my first accent is Irish. I will speak Irish with my parents and I played just a slight touch of Trinity College Dublin. That light lilt. I did that and Alfonso said, 'What's the accent here?' I said, 'Irish.' He said, 'That's OK.' And no one's ever mentioned it. I'm a little bit more camp, I think, a bit lighter. A bit more ethereal."

Harry Potter actor Michael Gambon cause of death

Gambon tragically died of pneumonia at the age of 82. He is the third Wizarding World alum to pass away in the last year after Robbie Coltrane (Hogwarts gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid in all eight movies), Leslie Phillips (voice of the Hogwarts Sorting Hat in Sorcerer's Stone) and Paul Grant (a Gringrotts goblin in Sorcerer's Stone).

Michael Gambon remembered by J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter co-stars

Posting on X (formerly known as Twitter), Potter author J.K. Rowling memorialized Gambon as a "brilliant actor" and "wonderful man."

“With the loss of Michael Gambon the world just became considerably less fun,” Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter in all eight movies, said in a statement obtained by SYFY WIRE. "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 continued: "The sixth film [Half-Blood Prince] 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."

Gambon was also mourned on social media by co-stars Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), James Phelps (Fred Weasley), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), and Warwick Davis (Griphook and Professor Flitwick).

What films did Michael Gambon appear in other than Harry Potter?

The actor reunited with J.K. Rowling in 2015 for the miniseries adaptation of the author's first book, post-Potter: The Casual Vacancy.

In a career spanning more than half a century, Gambon also appeared in such genre projects as Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Doctor Who, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and Paddington. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998 for his services to drama (via NBC News).

Gambon is survived by his wife, Anne Miller; girlfriend, Philippa Hart; and three sons: Fergus, Michael, and William.

Wizarding World fans can relive Gambon's indelible performance as Dumbldore with all eight Potter films now streaming on Peacock.