Michael Gambon, a protégé of Laurence Olivier and giant of the British stage who played Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts, apparently with little difficulty in the last six Harry Potter films, passed away. He was 82.
“The Great Gambon,” as Ralph Richardson once called him, “died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside after a bout of pneumonia,” according to a statement from a family representative. “We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon,” it said, calling him a “beloved husband and father.” The family added: “We ask that you respect our privacy at this painful time and thank you for your messages of support and love.”
Among the first group of actors Olivier recruited for the National Theater Company in the early 1960s, the Dublin native was nominated for an Olivier Award thirteen times, winning in 1986 and ’90 for Alan Ayckbourn’s film. A chorus of disapproval And Man of the momentrespectively, and in 1988 for Arthur Miller’s A view from the bridge.
He received another for his turn as a recently widowed businessman trying to reunite with his former mistress Skylightthen added a Tony Award nomination in his only Broadway appearance after the David Hare drama came to New York for a three-month visit in 1997.
Due to memory loss, Gambon retired from the stage in 2015, but continued to work on screen as the culmination of a brilliant career that spanned seven decades. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1998 for his services to drama.
Twelve years earlier, Gambon became a household name in Britain and made waves in the United States when he played Philip Marlow, a bedridden mystery writer who relives various crime stories through his hallucinations in the six-part BBC series. The singing detective, written by Dennis Potter. He would receive the first of his four BAFTA TV Awards for this performance, and the show would receive a Peabody Award after it aired on PBS.
Gambon was also memorable in another British mystery series, playing Parisian Chief Inspector Jules Maigret for two seasons (1992-93) on ITV’s Maigretbased on the novels by Georges Simenon, and received an Emmy nomination for his turn as US President Lyndon Johnson in the 2002 HBO telefilm Path to wardirected by John Frankenheimer.
In the early 1970s, he turned down an invitation from producer Albert Broccoli to audition for James Bond.
The cheerful, mischievous Gambon played perhaps his most famous role in 2004 when he took over as Dumbledore following the death of Richard Harris from Hodgkin’s disease two years earlier. (Coincidentally, Harris had played Inspector Maigret several years before Gambon.)
His first appearance as the kind, fatherly wizard came in the third film of the franchise, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, with director Alfonso Cuarón handpicking him to replace Harris. The late actor’s family reportedly wanted Peter O’Toole to get the job, a job that Ian McKellen turned down.
Cuaron said at the time that Gambon accepted the role with deep respect for the former master and “even kept a little Irish twist to his accent with a nod to Richard Harris.” Gambon would play Dumbledore in five more Potter films, ending with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II (2011).
However, he was dismissive about how much work he had to put in to play the bearded wizard. “There’s actually no character, it’s just me! I dress up in a costume!” He told The Irish Times in 2010. “I basically play myself, that’s all I do.”
Born on October 19, 1940 in Dublin, Michael John Gambon moved to London with his family at the age of six when his father, Edward, an engineer during World War II, decided to join the workforce helping to rebuild the devastated British. capital.
After leaving school, Gambon apprenticed as a toolmaker for manufacturing giant Vickers Armstrong, becoming a qualified engineering technician and looking set to follow in his father’s footsteps. But after getting a taste of the stage at his local theater, he decided to send a bold, fiction-filled letter and resume to Irish impresario Micheál Mac Liammóir, a move that would dramatically change his life.
In his letter, Gambon described his prolific and entirely imaginary acting career, adding that he was just passing through Dublin on his way to New York.
‘I said, ‘I’ve just played the lead in the West End in George Bernard Shaw’s Candida,'” Him revealed in 2010. “Terrible lie. The actor who played it, I don’t remember who it was, his name was in lights. The thing is, they never doubted it.”
Dutifully impressed, Mac Liammóir gave Gambon his first professional acting job in 1962, the small one-line part of “Second Gentleman,” in Othello in the Poorttheater. The production would then tour Europe.
A year later, Gambon came out with the opening monologue during an audition Richard III, caught the attention of Olivier, who was looking for promising young talent for his new National Theater Company. Billed as Mike Gambon, he would become – along with Robert Stephens, Derek Jacobi, Frank Finlay and others – one of the company’s “famous” ones; his first performance for Olivier was in Hamlet at the Old Vic next to O’Toole.
Olivier was also responsible for bringing Gambon to the big screen, hiring him for three small roles Othello (1965), based on the national version. The film’s leads – Maggie Smith, Joyce Redman, Finlay and Olivier – each received an Oscar nomination, a rare achievement.
Gambon would spend three years at the Old Vic before leaving the National – on Olivier’s advice – to expand his credentials at the Birmingham Repertory Company, where he took on his first title roles, including Othello and Macbeth.
It was around this time, thanks to his performance as a Scottish clan leader in BBC2’s 1968-70 swashbuckling Elizabethan-era drama series. The bordersthat Gambon had a remarkable near miss.
Featuring George Lazenby’s performance as Bond About Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) for not living up to expectations, Broccoli met Gambon in London to discuss the role with him. The actor said he wasn’t handsome enough to play the super spy – he was “too fat” and “my teeth are like a horse’s teeth,” he said – and Sean Connery would return for the next Bond film, Diamonds are forever (1971).
In the 1970s and 1980s, Gambon’s stage profile would rise dramatically when he returned to London to play the melancholy veteran in Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests and star opposite Penelope Wilton in Harold Pinter’s Deceptionback at the National (now based on the South Bank).
The National’s 1980 staging of Brecht The life of Galileo would see Gambon receive the rare compliment of having his fellow cast members applaud him in the locker room on the first night. The Sunday Times would describe his work in it as “a decisive step towards a great tragedy… great acting.” It wasn’t long before he was dubbed “The Great Gambon” by Richardson.
“He might have meant it in a circus sense, you know, like a clown or something,” Gambon said in a 1996 Poster interview. “I don’t hear it often at home in England because we’re such a cynical bunch of bastards.”
With his rugged good looks (“It’s like a bloody old wet bag,” he once said of his face), Gambon became an established actor on television, highlighted by a well-regarded role as Oscar Wilde in a 1985 BBC miniseries.
In between The singing detective And MaigretGambon played a violent and destructive gangster opposite Helen Mirren in Peter Greenaway’s controversial film The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover (1989).
After appearing on the big screen in Toys (1992), Mary Reilly (1996), as Fyodor Dostoyevsky in The gambler (1997) and alongside Meryl Streep in Dancing at Lughnasa (1998), Gambon had a big year in 1999, appearing in Plunkett & MacleaneTim Burtons Sleepy Hollow and the BBC’s four-part adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s 19th-century novel Wives and daughterswhich earned him another BAFTA trophy.
Well into the new millennium, Gambon was among the cast of Robert Altman’s critically acclaimed upper-class murder mystery. Gosford Park (2001), which portrays a wealthy industrialist among a who’s who of British acting greats (including another ‘famous one’, Jacobi). Emmy and Golden Globe noms would follow a year later for his stint as LBJ Path to waran examination of the Vietnam War through the eyes of the 36th president.
He went on to win two more BAFTA TV awards for playing an 18th century clockmaker Longitude in 2001 and a family member who has fallen on hard times Perfect strangers a year later.
While completing his spell at Hogwarts, Gambon starred in Jane Austen’s Emma miniseries for the BBC and played King George V in Tom Hooper’s Oscar triumph The King’s Speech (2010). He then joined British film stars Smith, Tom Courtney, Billy Connelly and Pauline Collins in Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut. Quartet (2012), as a grumpy former music director living in a nursing home.
In early 2015, Gambon, then 74, announced that he would give up the stage. ‘It’s horrible to admit, but I can’t do it. It breaks my heart,” he says told the Sunday Times, adding that he had tried to audition for a West End play while someone fed him the lines through an earpiece. “And after about an hour I thought, ‘This can’t work.’ You can’t stand in the theater, stand freely on stage shouting and screaming and running around, while someone reads your lines.”
But he would continue – although not quite at the same pace as before – with his TV and film work, narrating Coen Brothers comedy. Hail Caesar! (2016), with the voice of Uncle Pastuzo in the Paddington films released in 2014 and ’17 and starring British theater impresario Bernard Delfont Judy (2019).
Gambon married mathematician Anne Miller in 1962, but moved out in 2002 after his relationship with Philippa Hart, 25 years his junior, came to light. He had three sons, one (Fergus) with Miller and two (Thomas and William) with Hart.