Michael Gambon, Veteran Actor Who Played Dumbledore in ‘Harry Potter’ Films, Dies at Age 82

Actor Michael Gambon arrives for the premiere of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" in New York, July 9, 2009. (Reuters)
Actor Michael Gambon arrives for the premiere of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" in New York, July 9, 2009. (Reuters)
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Michael Gambon, Veteran Actor Who Played Dumbledore in ‘Harry Potter’ Films, Dies at Age 82

Actor Michael Gambon arrives for the premiere of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" in New York, July 9, 2009. (Reuters)
Actor Michael Gambon arrives for the premiere of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" in New York, July 9, 2009. (Reuters)

Michael Gambon, the Irish-born actor knighted for his storied career on the stage and screen and who gained admiration from a new generation of moviegoers with his portrayal of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in six of the eight “Harry Potter” films, has died. He was 82.

A statement by his family, issued by his publicist Thursday, said the actor died following “a bout of pneumonia.”

“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,” his family said.

While the Potter role raised Gambon’s international profile and found him a huge audience, he had long been recognized as one of Britain’s leading actors. His work spanned TV, theater and radio, and he starred in dozens of films from “Gosford Park” and “The King’s Speech” to the animated family movie “Paddington.” He recently appeared in the Judy Garland biopic “Judy,” released in 2019.

Gambon was knighted for services to drama in 1998.

The role of the much loved Professor Dumbledore was initially played by another Irish-born actor, Richard Harris. When Harris died in 2002, after two of the films in the franchise had been made, Gambon took over and played the part from “Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban” through to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.”

He once acknowledged not having read any of J. K Rowling’s best-selling books, arguing that it was safer to follow the script rather than be too influenced by the books. That didn't prevent him from embodying the spirit of the powerful wizard who fought against evil to protect his students.

Fiona Shaw, who played Petunia Dursley in the “Harry Potter” series, recalled Gambon telling her how central acting was to his life.

“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’,” Shaw told the BBC on Thursday. “I think he was always pretending that he didn’t take it seriously, but he took it profoundly seriously.”

Born in Dublin on Oct. 19, 1940, Gambon was raised in London and originally trained as an engineer, following in the footsteps of his father. He made his theater debut in a production of “Othello” in Dublin.

In 1963 he got his first big break with a minor role in “Hamlet,” the National Theatre Company’s opening production, under the directorship of the legendary Laurence Olivier.

Gambon soon became a distinguished stage actor and received critical acclaim for his leading performance in “Life of Galileo,” directed by John Dexter. He was frequently nominated for awards and won the Laurence Olivier Award three times and the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards twice.

A multi-talented actor, Gambon was also the recipient of four coveted British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards for his television work.

He became a household name in Britain after his lead role in the 1986 BBC TV series “The Singing Detective,” written by Dennis Potter and considered a classic of British television drama. Gambon won the BAFTA for best actor for the role.

Gambon was versatile as an actor but once told the BBC of his preference for playing “villainous characters.” He played gangster Eddie Temple in the British crime thriller “Layer Cake" — a review of the film by the New York Times referred to Gambon as “reliably excellent" — and a Satanic crime boss in Peter Greenaway's “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.”

He also had a part as King George V in the 2010 drama film “The King’s Speech.” In 2015 he returned to the works of J.K. Rowling, taking a leading role in the TV adaptation of her non-Potter book “The Casual Vacancy.”

Gambon retired from the stage in 2015 after struggling to remember his lines in front of an audience due to his advancing age. He once told the Sunday Times Magazine: “It’s a horrible thing to admit, but I can’t do it. It breaks my heart.”

Gambon was always protective when it came to his private life. He married Anne Miller and they had one son, Fergus. He later had two sons with set designer Philippa Hart.



Global Music Streams are Up in 2024

FILE - Bad Bunny performs during “The Most Wanted Tour” at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on May 15, 2024. (Photo by Paul R. Giunta/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - Bad Bunny performs during “The Most Wanted Tour” at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on May 15, 2024. (Photo by Paul R. Giunta/Invision/AP, File)
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Global Music Streams are Up in 2024

FILE - Bad Bunny performs during “The Most Wanted Tour” at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on May 15, 2024. (Photo by Paul R. Giunta/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - Bad Bunny performs during “The Most Wanted Tour” at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on May 15, 2024. (Photo by Paul R. Giunta/Invision/AP, File)

Halfway through the year, a few music trends have become apparent: Global music streams are up, Latin music has become the fastest growing streaming genre in the United States, and physical album variants — multiple releases of the same — are on the rise.

Going Global The global music industry surpassed 1 trillion streams at the fastest pace, ever, in a calendar year, Luminate’s 2024 Midyear Report has found. The number was reached 10 days faster than in 2023, according to The AP.

Global streams also increased 15.1% with 2.29 trillion on-demand audio streams, up from 1.99 trillion at this point last year.

The continued Latin music boom People everywhere are streaming more music, and in the US, Latin music has become the fastest growing streaming genre, up 15.1% from this time last year. Latin music streaming also leans the most current — 35% of all Latin streams in the US are for albums released in the last 18 months. Compare that to rock music, where 70.5% of streams in the US are from deep catalogs — releases that are 5 years old, or older.

There are no Latin artists featured in the top 10 albums or songs of the year to date, but Bad Bunny, Peso Pluma, Fuera Regida, Karol G, Rauw Alejandro, Aventura, Carín León are among the top 200 most streamed artists in the US for the first half of 2024.

Last year, Latin music was among the top three fastest growing genres in the US, says Jaime Marconette, Luminate’s vice president of music insights and industry relations. The 2024 figures illustrate a continuation in that trend.

“A huge part of that growth was driven by the continued rise of regional Mexican music, which is the largest Latin music subgenre so far this year with more than 13 billion US on-demand audio streams,” Marconette told The AP.

And while the Puerto Rican artist Bad Bunny remains “the biggest-streaming Latin music artist in the US,” he says the three other Latin artists who crossed over 100 million US. on-demand audio streams throughout the first half of 2024 are regional Mexican acts: Pluma, Fuerza Regida and Junior H.

Physical albums aren't going anywhere It's not just the streaming economy on the rise.

Physical variants of albums — multiple releases of the same album, sometimes containing different bonus tracks or featuring a different design — have steadily grown in popularity since 2020.

In 2024, physical album sales increased 3.8% in the US over this time last year, climbing to 24.7 million from 23.8 million, the data and analytics company found in its report.

But it’s not just any artist creating more physical variants of their releases. The artists who’ve had the top 10 bestselling albums so far this year have also had the highest average number of variants. That includes Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and Beyoncé, as well as K-pop acts like Tomorrow x Together, Ateez and TWICE.

In 2024, the average number of variants for a top 10 bestselling album is 22: seven different vinyl releases, 13 CDs and two cassettes.

For albums in the top 101 - 500 rankings, there's only about five variants per release, and for 501 - 1,000, there's an average of four physical variants.

“We have seen a consistent trend in recent years where albums at the top of the charts employed more and more physical variants in their album release campaigns," says Marconette.

However, “there has also been criticism within the artist and fan communities regarding the environmental impacts of producing so many physical products,” he says, suggesting there is "a clear demand for recycled materials and other sustainability initiatives in this space.”