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Michael Gambon, who played Dumbledore in 'Harry Potter,' dies at 82

Actor Michael Gambon took over the role of Albus Dumbledore in <em>The Prisoner of Azkaban.</em>
Carl Court
/
AFP via Getty Images
Actor Michael Gambon took over the role of Albus Dumbledore in The Prisoner of Azkaban.

Actor Michael Gambon, who was best known for playing Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series of movies, has died. He was 82.

"We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon," read a statement from his publicist. "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 took over the role of Albus Dumbledore following the death of actor Richard Harris. He bought a different tenor to the role – one intentionally disparate from the character's portrayal in the original books. In 2009 he told The LA Times that since he was dealing with the screenwriter's words, he saw "no point in reading the books."

Gambon was born in 1940, in Ireland. He started his acting career on stage and was hired by Laurence Olivier to join in the National Theatre's first production, Hamlet. He won multiple awards for his stage acting, including 3 Olivier Awards.

He became a big-name actor in Britain after starring in the 1986 BBC series The Singing Detective. That role earned him his first of four BAFTA Awards. Gambon was knighted in 1998.

Besides reprising his role as Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, he was a versatile actor showing up in film and television roles such as Paddington, Hail, Caesar! and the BBC's adaptation of J.K. Rowling's novel The Casual Vacancy.

He was an admirer of Rowling's work, but that wasn't his top priority as an actor. "I didn't do Harry Potter because she wrote it," Gambon said in an interview."I did it because I wanted the money."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.