Barry Humphries, creator of Dame Edna, dies at 89

Australian tv discuss present host Dame Edna (L) seems as a visitor on “The Tonight Present with Jay Leno” as discuss present host Jay Leno laughs at considered one of Dame Edna’s humorous feedback.

Reuters Photographer | Reuters

Barry Humphries, the comic finest identified for his character Dame Edna Everage who blossomed from an Australian suburban housewife right into a self-described gigastar, died on Saturday. He was 89.

The Sydney Morning Herald mentioned Humphries died at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, the place he had been handled for numerous well being points.

“He was fully himself till the very finish, by no means shedding his good thoughts, his distinctive wit and generosity of spirit,” his household mentioned in a press release quoted by Australian media.

“His audiences have been valuable to him, and he by no means took them with no consideration. Though he could also be finest remembered for his work in theatre, he was a painter, creator, poet, and a collector and lover of artwork in all its kinds.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese paid tribute to Humphries in a tweet, calling him a “nice wit, satirist, author and an absolute one-of-kind”.

It was the character of Dame Edna who made Humphries well-known. With coiffed lilac hair, outsized diamante glasses and an outlandish wardrobe, the immediately recognizable Edna would joyfully greet audiences along with her trademark “Good day Possums!”.

Describing her reveals as a “monologue interrupted by strangers” and herself as blessed with “the power to snort on the misfortune of others,” Edna would warmly skewer celebrities and viewers members alike.

“Tim, I may discuss to you and about you and behind your again for ages,” the character as soon as mentioned in typical vogue as she was wrapping up a dialog with actor and comic Tim Allen on considered one of her discuss reveals.

Edna’s life as she advised it will typically go away stars in hysterics. She taught Mel Gibson drama, Julio Iglesias’ father was her touring gynecologist and she or he spent the coronavirus pandemic hiding out along with her new lover, the daddy of Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, in Texas.

Born and raised in Melbourne, John Barry Humphries was the son of a well-to-do builder who persuaded his dad and mom to purchase him an assortment of theatrical costumes to play costume up in.

Despatched to a conservative highschool, he was described by a good friend as a “spectacular misfit” who would flip his again on faculty soccer matches to knit.

The creation that will outline his profession got here early: at 21, he was a part of a travelling repertory firm when he got here up with a personality of a snobbish, inadvertently offensive housewife. In 1955, he stepped onstage for the primary time as “Mrs. Norm Everage” from Moonee Ponds, admitting solely a long time later that she was based mostly on his mom.

He developed a number of different Australian caricatures together with the repulsive drunk diplomat Les Patterson and the extra refined Sandy Stone, a decrepit rambling senior.


Humphries was additionally an actor, painter, creator and Dadaist performer of pranks.

In a single such prank, he would sneak a can of Heinz Russian Salad on a airplane, empty it right into a passenger sick bag and faux to vomit into the bag mid-flight earlier than continuing to eat the contents in entrance of bewildered passengers and crew.

Bored along with his residence metropolis, Humphries moved to Britain in 1959, a part of a wave of artistic expatriates together with humorist Clive James and artist Brett Whiteley, showcasing the Australian voice: earthy and irreverent however superficially well mannered.

“Edna has this manner of doing issues, it appears to take the curse off it,” Humphries advised Reuters in 1998. “I get no complaints.”

Though a family identify in Britain and Australia, the U.S. market proved arduous to crack regardless of a number of makes an attempt. That modified in 2000, when he was 66, and his “Dame Edna: The Royal Tour” on Broadway earned him a Tony award and position within the sitcom “Ally McBeal”.

He additionally voiced the character of Bruce the Shark in “Discovering Nemo”, wrote a satirical recommendation column, as Edna, for Self-importance Honest, and curated a cabaret competition the place he rejected acts that concerned swearing – a call he mentioned would encourage creativity.

For years Humphries struggled with alcoholism that destroyed his first marriage and practically his life, however he gave up consuming within the early 70s.

His quite a few honors included being awarded an Order of Australia in 1982, made a Commander of the British Empire in 2007 and that includes on Australian postage stamps.

However an outcry over a collection of remarks that have been broadly seen as transphobic helped immediate the Melbourne Worldwide Comedy Pageant to drop his identify from its prime award in 2019.

Humphries lived what he referred to as a “checkered, dramatic” private life, marrying 4 instances. He’s survived by his spouse, the actress Lizzie Spender, and his 4 kids.

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