West News Wire: Barry Humphries, a Tony Award-winning comedian known worldwide for his outrageous stage persona Dame Edna Everage has passed away. For seven decades, fans have enjoyed seeing her develop into a pretentious snob with a condescending demeanour. He was 89.
His family stated that he passed away in the Sydney hospital where he had been admitted after experiencing complications from hip surgery.
According to a family statement, “He was completely himself until the very end, never losing his brilliant mind, his unique wit and generosity of spirit.”
“With over 70 years on the stage, he was an entertainer at his very core, touring up until the last year of his life and planning more shows that, sadly, will never be,” they continued.
Humphries moved back to his native Australia after spending decades in London.
He told The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper last month that his physiotherapy had been “agony” following his fall and hip replacement.
“It was the most ridiculous thing, like all domestic incidents are. I was reaching for a book, my foot got caught on a rug or something, and down I went,” Humphries said of his fall.
Humphries has remained an active entertainer, touring Britain last year with his one-man show “The Man Behind the Mask.”
The character of Dame Edna began as a dowdy Mrs. Norm Everage, who first took to the stage in Humphries’ hometown of Melbourne in the mid-1950s. She reflected a postwar suburban inertia and cultural blandness that Humphries found stifling.
Edna is one of Humphries’ several enduring characters. The next most famous is Sir Les Patterson, an ever-drunk, disheveled and lecherous Australian cultural attache.
In 1972 came the first Barry McKenzie film financially supported by the Australian government, despite the earlier ban. It was savaged by the critics, largely because they trembled at what the world’s first film to feature beer induced vomiting would do to Australia’s image overseas.
But it was a popular success and a sequel two years later included then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam knighting Edna, who was McKenzie’s aunt.
Married four times, he is survived by his wife Lizzie Spender, four children and 10 grandchildren.