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Actor Michael Gambon, who played Harry Potter’s Dumbledore, dies at 82

British-Irish actor Michael Gambon, who played the wizard Albus Dumbledore in the six later “Harry Potter” movies, has died at the age of 82, his agency confirmed to CBS News on Thursday.

In a statement issued on behalf of his wife Lady Anne Gambon and his son Fergus, publicist Clair Dobbs said the family was “devastated to announce the loss,” and added that the “beloved husband and father” had died peacefully in a hospital with his wife and son by his side following a bout of pneumonia.

Gambon was awarded four U.K. television BAFTAs during his decades-long acting career, which saw him take staring roles across television, movies, radio and on the stage.

It was his role as the head of the Hogwarts school for witches and wizards in the Harry Potter franchise, however, that made him a familiar face to more recent generations. He succeeded actor Richard Harris in the role, who died in 2002 after portraying Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter movies.

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 Harry Potter stories in print. That didn’t prevent him from embodying the spirit of Professor 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 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” to “The King’s Speech” and the animated family movie “Paddington.”

Gambon was knighted for services to drama in 1998, becoming Sir Michael Gambon.

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