April 13, 2024

Dame Edna Everage aka Barry Humphries visits Newcastle, 28th November 1995. (Photo by Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

It was the first iteration of the irrepressible character that would define his career.

Humphries said his creation was supposed to last only a week.

Instead, it blossomed into Dame Edna, his gaudy, sharp-tongued comic alter ego who would leave audiences in stitches in Australia and beyond for decades. He said the character was based on his own mother.

“Edna was painfully shy at first,” Humphries told the Guardian in 2018. “Hard to believe!”

She became more outrageous as the years went on, and was famed for her lilac-rinsed hair, flamboyant glasses and catchphrase: “Hello possums!”

Dame Edna surprised the then Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, at the Royal Variety show in 2019 when she sat near the two and joked “they’ve found me a better seat” before moving.

Dame Edna sits near a high tea standIMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
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Humphries appeared as Dame Edna on stage, on screen and in print throughout his long career

Humphries even wrote an autobiography, My Gorgeous Life, as the character.

His other popular characters on stage and screen included the more grandfatherly Sandy Stone.

He said of Stone in 2016 that he could “finally feel myself turning into him”.

Humphries also presented six series for BBC Radio 2, the latest being a three part series celebrating 100 years of the BBC.

The commissioning executive for Radio 2, Laura Busson, said his series “Barry Humphries Forgotten Musical Masterpieces” was hugely popular with audiences, and would be published on BBC Sounds today as a tribute to the comedian.

Barry HumphriesIMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
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He also voiced the shark Bruce in 2003 Pixar animated film Finding Nemo

The comic actor, author, director and scriptwriter, who was also a keen landscape painter, announced a farewell tour for his satirical one-man stage show in 2012. But he returned last year with a series of shows looking back at his career.

His other credits included voicing the shark Bruce in 2003 Pixar animated film Finding Nemo, as well as appearances in 1967 comedy Bedazzled, Spice World, The Hobbit and Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.

Humphries was made an Officer of the Order of Australia, one of the country’s highest civic honours, in 1982.

Later in his career, he was criticised for referring to gender affirmation surgery as “self-mutilation” and described transgender identity as a “fashion”.

But his fans in Australia are mourning the loss of a comedy legend.

He was married four times, and leaves behind his wife of Lizzie Spender and four children.

 

 

 

 

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