Michael Gambon (born October 19, 1940) is an actor who has become known worldwide for his role as Albus Dumbledore in the two latest Harry Potter films; he is also a Samuel Beckett scholar. He was born in Dublin, Ireland, and emigrated with his family to the United Kingdom in 1945 (to Camden Town, London) at the age of 5. He attended Catholic school. His father was a policeman for a period of time.
He made his film debut in the Laurence Olivier Othello in 1965. He then played romantic leads, notably in the early 1970s BBC television series, The Borderers, in which he was swashbuckling Gavin Ker. However, his craggy looks soon made him into a character actor, and it was not until Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective (1986) that he became a household name. Even after this success, for which he won a British Academy Television Award, his career was patchy, with big hits such as the 1989 film, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, which also starred Helen Mirren, interspersed with less notable work.
In 1992 he starred as Georges Simenon's detective Inspector Jules Maigret in an ITV adaptation of Simenon's series of books. He starred as Fyodor Dostoyevsky in the Hungarian director K├íroly Makk's movie The Gambler (1997) about the writing of Dostoyevsky's novella The Gambler.
In recent years, films such as Dancing at Lughnasa (1998) and Plunkett and Macleane (1998), as well as television appearances in series such as Wives and Daughters (1999) (for which he won another BAFTA), a made-for-TV adaptation of Beckett's Endgame (2001) and Perfect Strangers (2001) have revealed a talent for comedy.
In 2004, he appeared in five films, including Wes Anderson's quirky comedy The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou; the British gangster flick Layer Cake; theatrical drama Being Julia; and CGI action fantasy Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Perhaps his most significant role in 2004, however, was Albus Dumbledore, Hogwart's headmaster in the third instalment of JK Rowling's franchise, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, taking over from the late Irish actor Richard Harris, who died due to Hodgkins Disease. He reprised the role in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was released in November 2005 in the UK and U.S.. He will return to the role of Dumbledore again in the fifth movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, to be released in 2007.
During his career, Gambon has appeared in film, television and theatre with an alumni of highly regarded actors, directors and writers: Maggie Smith, Miranda Richardson, Dennis Potter and Derek Jacobi have all appeared alongside the 'Great Gambon' on multiple occasions.
Sir Michael Gambon is divorced with one son.