Sir Michael Gambon was a titan of the stage and film

Sir Michael Gambon was a titan of the stage and film

Stage and film titan Sir Michael Gambon was most well known for his 1986 role as Philip Marlow in Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective and playing headmaster Professor Albus Dumbledore in the film franchise Harry Potter.

Alongside his many film credits, the actor had an affinity for the stage, and played the title character in the 1982 production of King Lear for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The Dublin-born actor performed under Sir Laurence Olivier who had been appointed director of the National Theatre in August 1962, a year before Sir Michael started at the theatre and starred in Peter O’Toole’s Hamlet.

The thespian started out life in Dublin during the Second World War and later moved to England with his family. He would later return to Dublin to star in The Gate Theatre productions where he began his early acting career.

In the 1990s, the actor played French detective Jules Maigret in ITV series Maigret and Baltus Van Tassel in Tim Burton’s 1999 film Sleepy Hollow.

The Actors – Caine & Gambon
Sir Michael Caine and Sir Michael Gambon during a photocall at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin, Ireland, to promote film The Actors (Haydn West/PA)

The year prior, he had been knighted for his contribution to the entertainment industry, having previously been appointed a Commander of the British Empire (CBE).

Although Sir Michael was known for portraying Dumbledore in the beloved film series Harry Potter, he had only started in the role during filming for the third movie, Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban.

The actor who had originally played the wizard, Richard Harris, died in 2002.

In 2012, at the British Independent Film Awards, Sir Michael won the Richard Harris Award, which was set up in 2002 in honour of Harris to recognise outstanding contributions to British film by an actor.

Harry Potter photocall
Daniel Radcliffe, Gary Oldman, Emma Watson, Sir Michael Gambon and Rupert Grint during a photocall to promote Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (Ian West/PA)

Later on in his career, after admitting that he had been finding it difficult to read his lines, Sir Michael told The Sunday Times in 2014 that he would be bringing the curtain down on his stage career and said: “It’s a horrible thing to admit but I can’t do it. It breaks my heart.”

His illustrious theatre career had also included appearances in Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests, Samuel Beckett play Krapp’s Last Tape and Nicholas Hytner’s National Theatre production of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2.

In his time, Sir Michael portrayed a handful of political figures on screen and even played former prime minister Sir Winston Churchill in the 2016 TV movie Churchill’s Secret.

Another prominent political figure portrayed by Sir Michael was 36th US president Lyndon B Johnson in HBO’s Path To War, which aired in 2002.

Other notable appearances made by the multi-award-winning actor included his portrayal of Private Godfrey in the film version of Dad’s Army in 2016 and his role in BBC One’s 2015 adaptation of JK Rowling’s novel The Casual Vacancy.

Baftas Gambon
Actor Michael Gambon with the best actor award he received for Longitude (William Conran/PA)

In recognition of his career, Sir Michael was awarded four best actor Bafta gongs – for The Singing Detective in 1987, Wives And Daughters in 2000, Longitude in 2001 and Perfect Strangers in 2002.

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 Johnson in 2002’s Path To War.

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.