Barry Humphries, the legendary Australian actor, comedian, and creator of Dame Edna Everage, has passed away at the age of 89 in Sydney. He was readmitted to the hospital due to complications following hip surgery last month. Humphries had been receiving treatment since February after a fall.
Humphries was born in Melbourne in 1934 and rose to fame in the 1950s after originating the drag-character housewife Edna Everage. The act, which included lilac hair and funky glasses, served as a form of social satire. The creation hit the London stage in the 1970s, gaining a fanbase that landed Humphries appearances in theater, film, and TV for the next few decades. Before becoming a notable personality, Humphries was a fixture on the West End stage, appearing in shows such as Oliver.
For 89 years, Barry Humphries entertained us through a galaxy of personas, from Dame Edna to Sandy Stone.
But the brightest star in that galaxy was always Barry.
A great wit, satirist, writer and an absolute one-of-kind, he was both gifted and a gift.
May he rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/oSAKpxPGae
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) April 22, 2023
In 2000, Humphries expanded his act to the U.S. with the Broadway production Dame Edna, The Royal Tour, for which he was presented with a special Tony award. His other honors included being made Officer of the Order of Australia (OA) in 1982 and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), which Queen Elizabeth presented to him for his contribution to the arts in 2007.
Humphries appeared in a number of films, including Bedazzled (1967), Spice World (1997), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), and Finding Nemo (2003).
Many public figures paid tribute to the star, including Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who tweeted, “For 89 years, Barry Humphries entertained us through a galaxy of personas, from Dame Edna to Sandy Stone. But the brightest star in that galaxy was always Barry. A great wit, satirist, writer, and an absolute one of kind, he was both gifted and a gift.”
RIP Barry Humphries, 89.
One of the funniest people I’ve ever met. A wondrously intelligent, entertaining, daring, provocative, mischievous comedy genius. As hilarious in private as he was as the iconic Dame Edna. What a life, what a character. Thanks for all the laughs, Barry. pic.twitter.com/M9tHIW2IY7
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 22, 2023
Comedian Ricky Gervais also posted a dedication, while news personality Piers Morgan called him “one of the funniest people I’ve ever met,” adding, “A wondrously intelligent, entertaining, daring, provocative, mischievous comedy genius.”
Humphries is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Spender, and four children. His family released a statement celebrating his life and the many he inspired with his work. “With over 70 years on the stage, he was an entertainer to his core, touring up until the last year of his life and planning more shows that will sadly never be,” the statement read. “He was also a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, and a friend and confidant to many. His passing leaves a void in so many lives. The characters he created, which brought laughter to millions, will live on.”
Humphries’ passing marks the end of an era in Australian comedy and entertainment, and he will be greatly missed by fans all over the world.