Sir Michael’s extensive career on stage and screen dates back to 1965 but he was perhaps best known to modern audiences as Professor Dumbledore in six of the eight Harry Potter movies, taking over the role from Richard Harris.
A statement on behalf of his wife Lady Gambon and son Fergus Gambon, issued by publicist Clair Dobbs, said: “We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon.
“Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside, following a bout of pneumonia. Michael was 82.
“We ask that you respect our privacy at this painful time and thank you for your messages of support and love.”
The actor - known as “The Great Gambon” in acting circles - last appeared on stage in 2012 in a London production of Samuel Beckett’s play All That Fall.
Sir Michael, who who won four TV Baftas, is also known for playing French detective Jules Maigret in ITV series Maigret, and for starring in the BBC series, The Singing Detective.
His movie career really took off following Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, his Wife & her Lover, released in 1989 and he soon became a silver screen staple on both sides of the Atlantic, while also earning acclaim on television and on stage in a variety of roles.
Sir Michael remained enormously prolific throughout his career, with 148 TV or film credits as of 2015, according to Variety and was able to mix the low brow (Ali G Inda House) with the prestige (Robert Altman’s Gosford Park).
First time I ever went to see any Theatre with a capital T it was Michael Gambon in Brecht’s Life Of Galileo at The National in 1980. It’s still the best stage acting I’ve ever seen. RIP. pic.twitter.com/ascXcf14m7
— David Baddiel (@Baddiel) September 28, 2023
Among those leading tributes were fellow Harry Potter co-star, Rupert Grint, who said Sir Michael had been a “personal role model” for him.
Paying tribute, Grint, who played Ron Weasley, wrote on Instagram: “So sad to hear about Michael.
“He brought so much warmth and mischief to every day on set. He captivated me as a kid and became a personal role model of mine for finding the fun and eccentricities in life. Sending all my love to his family, Rupert.”
Former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson said: “I’m so sad to hear that Michael Gambon has died. He was hugely amusing, and such a tremendous guest, we even named a corner after him.”
On the ‘Star in a Reasonably Priced Car’ feature, Sir Michael almost rolled his car on the last corner of the lap.
Sir Michael admitted that he had never read the Harry Potter books prior to his casting as Dumbledore, and, he told the The Independent: “I’d never seen any of the previous films, but working on the series was huge fun — and for lots of dosh.”
He reunited with Rowling’s work in the TV adaptation of her novel The Casual Vacancy.
On stage he was known for his affiliation with Harold Pinter, leading the tributes to the acclaimed playwright upon his death in 2008.
Irish film and TV actress Fiona Shaw has said she will remember her Harry Potter co-star Sir Michael Gambon for being a “brilliant, magnificent trickster”.
Shaw, who played Petunia Dursley in the film franchise, told BBC Radio 4: “I will remember him because he was also a gun maker, he could make guns, he always said he could fool the V&A into believing that they were 18th century guns.
“So I will think of him as a trickster, just brilliant, magnificent trickster, but with text, there was nothing like him, he could do anything.”
She also recalled working with him on the Harry Potter films: “He took over from Richard Harris and of course, he began to mimic Richard Harris, who had recently died, and he would do his accent, the slight Irish accent.
“Which of course he always loved having an excuse to do because his family had come from Ireland, and gone to live in Camden. He just loved the precariousness of reality and unreality and, of course, that made him a very great actor.”
Shaw added: “He did once say to me in a car ‘I know I go on a lot about this and that, but actually in the end, there is only acting’. I think he was always pretending that he didn’t take it seriously, but he took it profoundly seriously, I think.”
The Bafta gongs were earned for his main acting roles for family BBC drama Perfect Strangers in 2002, as a clockmaker hoping to win a prize in Channel 4’s Longitude in 2001, BBC Elizabeth Gaskell adaption Wives And Daughters in 2000 and BBC serial The Singing Detective in 1987.
He also had parts in director Wes Anderson comedy films 2004’s The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and 2009’s Fantastic Mr Fox.