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Veteran actor Michael Gambon, who was known to many for his portrayal of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in six of the eight Harry Potter films, has died, his publicist says. He was 82.

A statement by his family, issued by his publicist, said he 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.

There's no "probably" about ol' Albus's sexuality: IN 2007, <i>Harry Potter</i> author J.K. Rowling confirmed he played with another's wizard wand in his youth.
Michael Gambon as Dumbledore.

No matter what role he took on in a career that lasted more than five decades, Gambon was always instantly recognisable by the deep and drawling tones of his voice.

He was cast as the much-loved Dumbledore after the death of his predecessor, Richard Harris, in 2002.

He once acknowledged not having read any of JK 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 Dumbledore, the powerful wizard who fought against evil to protect his students.

Although the Potter role raised Gambon’s international profile and introduced him to a new generation of fans, he had long been recognised as one of Britain’s leading actors.

His work spanned TV, theatre and radio, and he starred in dozens of films from Gosford Park to The King’s Speech and the animated family movie Paddington.

Gambon was knighted for services to drama in 1998.

FILE - Actor Michael Gambon arrives in Trafalgar Square, in central London, for the World Premiere of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the last film in the series, Thursday, July 7, 2011. Actor Michael Gambon, who played Dumbledore in the later Harry Potter films, has died at age 82, his publicist says. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan, File)
Actor Michael Gambon arrives in Trafalgar Square, in central London, for the World Premiere of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, in 2011. (AP)

Born in Ireland on October 19, 1940, Gambon was raised in London and originally trained as an engineer, following in the footsteps of his father. He made his theatre 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 3 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.

In pictures: Where are the cast of Harry Potter now?

He became a household name in Britain after his lead role in the 1986 BBC 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 JK Rowling, taking a leading role in the TV adaptation of her 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.”

The actor 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.

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