The 76-year-old Irish-born actor, who is still working, will be honoured by his peers at the IFTA Film and Drama Awards ceremony in Dublin next month for his achievements over 50 years in film and television.
The lifetime award is the highest honour IFTA can bestow. Previous recipients include Maureen O’Hara, David Kelly, John Boorman, Jim Sheridan, Fionnula Flanagan and Liam Neeson.
Mr Gambon was born in Cabra, Dublin, in 1940. His father, Edward Gambon, was an engineer and his mother, Mary (née Hoare) was a seamstress. The family moved to London at the end of the Second World War.
He left school when he was 15 years old to train as a toolmaker with Vickers-Armstrong and, at age 21, became a qualified engineer.
During his time as a toolmaker’s apprentice, he started attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in classical acting.
In 1963 he joined the National Theatre Company in Britain under the guidance of Laurence Oliver and started working alongside contemporaries such as Anthony Hopkins.
One of his better-remembered roles is as the tormented mystery writer Philip Marlow in the Dennis Potter-penned BBC drama The Singing Detective in 1986. His performance won him the first of four BAFTAs.
Mr Gambon will soon take to the stage at the Gate Theatre in Dublin for a production of Beckett’s Eh Joe.
Last night he chatted to Ryan Tubridy about his extraordinary career on RTE’s Late Late Show alongside Michael Colgan, who is preparing to bring the curtain down on more than three decades as the Gate’s artistic director.
Mr Gambon, who received a knighthood in July 1998, started playing Dumbledore, Hogwarts’ headmaster in the Harry Potter franchise in 2004. He took over the role after the death of Richard Harris.
Recent television drama appearances include Churchill’s Secret, The Hallow Crown, the Nightmare Worlds of HG Wells and Fortitude. Feature film work includes Viceroy’s House, Mad to be Normal and Dad’s Army.
His next film project will see him reunite with Michael Caine to play the part of a gang of elderly London diamond robbers, together with Jim Broadbent and Ray Winstone. The yet untitled film is about the Hatton Garden jewellery heist in 2015.
IFTA chief executive Aine Moriarty, said Mr Gambon brought passion, skill and charisma to every screen role.
“A consummate professional with extraordinary wit and good humour, he has consistently delivered superb performances across a diverse range of pivotal roles and characters. He is a true role model for younger generations of actors to follow,” said Ms Moriarty.