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Harry Potter “Poof!”

Getty Images / Gamma-Rapho

We remember Harry Potter actors who have died.

In the film version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Professor Slughorn (actor Jim Broadbent) says of death: “That’s life, I suppose. You go along and suddenly: Poof!”

Since the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as it’s known in the UK), was released 15 years ago, several actors from the Harry Potter movie franchise have died.

For more than 10 years, British actor Alan Rickman, who died 14 January 2016, embodied Severus Snape, a potions professor with a passion for the Dark Arts. The complex Snape, portrayed to perfection by Rickman, was throughout much of the story the teacher we all loved to hate: he played favorites, punished mercilessly, and year after year ridiculed and tormented Harry and his friends.


Richard Harris (Getty Images)
Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore
(Getty Images)

Richard Harris, the first Albus Dumbledore (Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), was perhaps the most well-known of the deceased cast members due to his long film career. He died Oct. 25, 2002, at age 72.

According to his obituary in The Guardian of London, Harris committed himself to all of the films based on the J.K. Rowling’s books because “his granddaughter said she would never speak to him again if he turned down the role of Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series.”

Michael Gambon took over the role of the beloved headmaster for the remaining films.

Robert Knox, at age 18 the youngest of the featured cast members to die, played Marcus Belby, the Slug Club dinner guest, who shoveled dessert into his mouth nonstop, while telling Professor Slughorn that his family was estranged from his famous uncle. Knox was stabbed to death in bar brawl in London, while protecting his 16-year-old brother on May 24, 2008, four days after shooting his last scene for Half-Blood Prince.

“Relatives said his role as Marcus Belby in the film, due for release in November, was set to launch his career as an actor,” according to the story about his death in the Daily Telegraph of London.

Elizabeth Spriggs as the Fat Lady in Harry PotterElizabeth Spriggs, the original Fat Lady in the painting on the Gryffindor entrance from Sorcerer’s Stone, died July 2, 2008, at age 78.

She “was a tall, blonde, elegant, fresh-faced and versatile actor,” when she began acting in the 1950s, according to her obit in the Guardian, which provides an abundance of details about her career.

The Fat Lady role was taken over by Dawn French for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.



Timothy Bateson provided the voice of Kreacher, the Black family house elf, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. He died Sept. 16, 2009, at age 83.

The Daily Telegraph obit talks about his stage, television and movie successes.

“Bateson kept all three strands of his career going into old age, claiming that finding work became easier as the competition died off,” the obit said.

Simon McBurney voiced Kreacher for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.

Richard Griffiths, who played Harry's uncle, Vernon Dursley, throughout the film series, died at 65 on March 28, 2013, from complications of heart surgery. 

His obituary in the Guardian calls him an actor "defined by his largeness of spirit," not just by his sizable physical girth. In addition to the Harry Potter series, Griffiths had a prolific career on the stage and on British television.

Jimmy Gardner, the driver of the Night Bus in Chamber of Secrets, died May 3, 2010, at age 85.

The headline for his obit in The Independent called him a “War hero and actor whose roles ranged from gravedigger in the RSC’s ‘Hamlet’ to a bus driver in ‘Harry Potter’.”

Alfred Burke (Wikimedia Commons)Alfred Burke’s last screen role was as Professor Armando Dippet, who was Hogwarts headmaster when Tom Riddle was a student at the school of wizardry. He is shown in flashback in Chamber of Secrets.

He died Feb. 16, 2011, at age 92.

His obit in The Independent says he was known for playing private detective Frank Marker in the TV series Public Eye in the 1960s and ’70s.



Originally published July 2011, this post was contributed by Alana Baranick, former director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers. It has been updated as of Jan. 14, 2016.