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Michael Gambon Quit Stage Acting For A Heartbreaking Reason

Irish actor Michael Gambon has died at the age of 82. The late performer is best known for his role as the wise wizard Albus Dumbledore in several of the "Harry Potter" films, but his full filmography is far more extensive. Notably, Gambon was a classically trained theatrical actor and appeared in numerous productions of William Shakespeare's most iconic works, like "Othello" and "Macbeth," as well as several Broadway stage plays. However, he actually quit stage acting in early 2015 — over eight years prior to his death — for a saddening reason.

In an interview with the Sunday Times Magazine (preserved in part by Entertainment Weekly), Gambon revealed that he decided to quit the stage due to his struggles with short-term memory loss. Six years prior to his departure, the actor was hospitalized twice due to suffering two panic attacks after forgetting his lines. Difficulties with learning new productions only ballooned from there for Gambon. He eventually reached the point where a stagehand was feeding him his lines via earpiece while performing. "After about an hour I thought: 'This can't work. You can't be in theater, free on the stage, shouting and screaming and running around, with someone reading you your lines,'" he said.

Gambon continued to work beyond his stage retirement

While Michael Gambon's health caused the actor to quit stage performing, it wasn't a full-scale retirement for him. In fact, Gambon continued to appear in various roles across both film and TV all the way through 2019. "You've got to go to work, haven't you?" he told the Sunday Times Magazine regarding his decision to keep acting on both the big and small screens.

Gambon actually enjoyed quite a bit of success in his final years of acting. He lent his talents to massive film projects, like "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," "Paddington 2," "Johnny English Strikes Again," and "Judy." Meanwhile, he made sporadic appearances on TV series like "Fortitude," "Little Women," and "Fearless." He even reprised his role as Albus Dumbledore one more time by voicing the character in the video game "Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery." All told, the actor remained fairly busy even after his exit from stage acting.

Of course, it should also be noted that Gambon left behind quite a legacy on the stage acting front. By the time of his quitting in 2015, the actor had once been nominated for a Tony Award. He had also been nominated at the Olivier Awards 13 distinct times, and he won three times, twice for best comedy performance and once for best actor in a revival.