Gambon won three Olivier Awards and two ensemble cast Screen Actors Guild Awards - for 2001’s 'Gosford Park' and 'The King’s Speech'. NBC News

Sir Michael Gambon, best known for playing Dumbledore in a number of Harry Potter films, has died aged 82. The actor passed away peacefully in hospital.

His family said in a statement: "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."

Sir Michael began his acting career more than 60 years ago, attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art from the ages of 18 to 21. He did this while simultaneously apprenticing as a toolmaker.

Gambon's career took off as he was one of the original members of the Royal National Theatre alongside Laurence Olivier.

He also played French detective Jules Maigret in the ITV series Maigret, as well as starring in the BBC series, The Singing Detective.

Most notably, he portrayed Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore, after replacing Richard Harris for the franchise's third outing.

Gambon admitted that he had never read the 'Harry Potter' books, and he told the Independent newspaper: "I'd never seen any of the previous films, but working on the series was huge fun – and for lots of dosh."

Known as "The Great Gambon" in acting circles, he appeared more recently in a Dad's Army reboot, Sky Atlantic's Fortitude and the biographical film about Judy Garland.

His last outing on stage was in 2012, for a London production of Samuel Beckett's play 'All That Fall'. Gambon was knighted for services to the entertainment industry in 1998.

As well as his career on stage and screen, he also voiced The Prophet in the Elder Scrolls video games.

Former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson was among the first to leave tributes to the actor, writing on X, formerly Twitter: "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."

Comedian David Baddiel added: "The 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."

Inbetweeners actor Blake Harrison wrote: "The funniest actor I've ever worked with. My lunch breaks in Dad's Army were spent wanting to hear story after story from him. A phenomenal actor."

The actor, born in Cabra, Dublin, was enormously prolific, with over 150 TV or film credits in an era when half that number would be impressive and unusual – and this for a man whose body of stage work was also prodigious.

His iconic portrayal of Albus Dumbledore contributed to the sustained popularity of the Harry Potter franchise long after it had concluded.

Just a few months ago, New coins featuring Harry Potter, Dumbledore and portraits of two British monarchs were recently added as part of a Harry Potter-themed collection by the Royal Mint.

Experts are now predicting an unlikely boom in the collectors items which consists of four Harry Potter-themed 50p coins. It is set to become hugely popular among collectors, fans and investors.

Alongside this, the Potter universe welcomed the "Hogwarts Legacy" video game to its collection last month.

It currently sits top of the pre-order sales charts, described as "the game that everyone has been waiting for," said Quentin Seigneur, a 31-year-old French entrepreneur who has been a fan of the franchise since the first book was released in France in 1998.

"We'll finally be the wizard we've all dreamt of being," the enthusiast added.