Michael Combs, star of Harry Potter and The Singing Detective, dies at 82 | Michael Gambon

Sir Michael Combon, whose extraordinary acting career took him from Laurence Olivier’s New National Theater to roles in The Singing Detective and Harry Potter, has died aged 82.

Publicist Clare Dobbs released a statement on behalf of his wife Lady Combon and son Fergus: “We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Combon. A loving husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside following a bout with pneumonia. Michael was 82. We ask that you respect our privacy during this painful time and thank you for your messages of support and love.

Dubbed „The Great Compan” by Ralph Richardson, and adored by generations of fellow actors, he excelled in plays by Harold Pinter, Samuel Beckett and Alan Ayckbourn. „I owe Michael a huge amount,” Ayckbourn said Thursday. „He was a remarkable stage artist. It was a privilege to watch him work on my material. You couldn’t really call it acting—more spontaneous combustion.”

Ayckbourn, who directed him in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge in 1987, won a Compton and an Olivier Award for his portrayal of the conflicted Brooklyn longshoreman Eddie Carbone. Combon also starred in Ayckbourn’s ambitious trilogy The Norman Conquests. The titular scientist in Brecht’s The Life of Galileo at the National Theater in 1980 and the diner returning to see an ex-lover in David Hare’s Skylight earned him a Tony Award nomination on Broadway in the mid-’90s.

Campan’s Harry Potter co-star Fiona Shaw told BBC Radio 4 that he was „a brilliant, brilliant trickster” who „remarkably turned his life around and never decided what he was doing, he just played”. Dame Elaine Adkins told the BBC: „He had to walk on stage and he immediately commanded the whole audience.”

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One of those who paid tributes on social media Jason IsaacsWho said: „The Singing Detective – I learned from Michael what acting is complex, vulnerable and completely human.” David Badiel He said that he first saw Life of Galileo at the National and that Comban’s performance in 1980 was „the best stage performance I’ve ever seen”. actor Peter Egan described Kampan as „one of the funniest people on the planet and a great actor”.

After Comban enjoyed an arthouse film success with Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989), he landed roles in major films such as Sleepy Hollow, The Insider and Gosford Park. Later, sporting a beard and tasseled hat, he portrayed Harry Potter’s Professor Albus Dumbledore in several hit films, taking over the role after the death of Richard Harris in 2002. She lent her rich voice to several films, including Mama Bastuso in both Paddington and Paddington. As the narrator of the movies and the lives of the Coen brothers, Caesar!

Michael Combs in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Photo: Allstar/Warner Bros./SportsPhoto Ltd

With an imposing frame and rugged features, Kampen looked like a department store manager and a „big, interesting old bugger”, and Ayckbourn once called him „a wonderful, limitless machine like a Lamborghini”. Admired by the audience, with a powerful presence that adds weight to minimal material, Kampan guarded his privacy and reluctantly gave interviews. In 2004 he told the Observer: „I try to conspire and keep my mouth shut.”

Campan left school at 15 and, unlike many of his contemporaries, received no formal training at a drama school, instead gaining experience by acting in amateur productions. He was born in Dublin in 1940; His father moved to London and was a reserve policeman during World War II. His mother was taken to England to join him at the end of the Kampan War. They then moved to Kent, where he began an engineering apprenticeship at the age of 16 at the Vickers-Armstrongs factory. He began working as a set builder at the Amateur Theater before ending up on stage in bit parts at the Unity Theater and the Tower Theater in London.

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He bluffed his way through talking about his experience in his first professional roles, making his Dublin debut in a minor role in Othello. At 22, he made his West End debut as an understudy in The Bed-Sitting Room. He also took acting courses at the Royal Court run by George Devine and William Caskill.

Michael Gambon as Falstaff in Henry IV Part 1.
Michael Gambon as Falstaff in Henry IV Part 1. Photo: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Kampan said he had never seen a Shakespeare production before. He performed minor Shakespearean roles at the National Theater and auditioned for the company by playing the role of Richard III – recently played by Laurence Oliver – opposite Olivier. He appeared in Othello with Olivier at the National and Hamlet starring Peter O’Toole. Later, at Olivier’s suggestion, Compton left the National and joined the Birmingham Repertory Theater to take on larger roles, including the title part in Othello. At 30, he played Macbeth in a production at Billingham that he described as being set in outer space. In the early 80s, he was there Royal Shakespeare Company Adrien Noble’s productions of King Lear and Antony and Cleopatra, sometimes on the same day, were staged at breakneck speed. In 2005, Nicholas Hydner directed him as Falstaff in Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 at the National Theatre.

On television, he had major hits with series about two different sleuths. The first was Dennis Potter’s musical noir The Singing Detective, which cast him as a mystery novelist hospitalized with psoriatic arthritis. The second Maigret is a collection of thrillers, starring Belgian writer Georges Simenon as the eponymous Parisian policeman. She also played Angel alongside Simon Callow in the TV version of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America.

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Lee Evans and Michael Combs in Endgame in 2004.
Lee Evans and Michael Combs in Endgame in 2004. Photo: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

After appearing in the Samuel Beckett plays Endgame, E Joe, Grab’s Last Tab and All That Fall, Combon began to withdraw from stage work. In 2014, he said he was struggling to remember his lines: “I regret it. I love theatre, but I can’t see myself playing big parts again. In 2009, due to ill health, he pulled out of Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art at the National Theatre, only weeks before opening night, and was replaced by Richard Griffiths.

Harold Pinter’s plays brought Comban some of his best roles, including Jerry in The Love Triangle of Betrayal and the elegant Hirst in No Man’s Land. After he stopped performing on stage, his rich, unmistakable voice could at least be heard Produced by Jamie Lloyd of Mountain Language In the all-star Pinter in the Pinter season in the West End in 2018.

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