- By Paul Glynn, Entertainment Correspondent and Antoinette Radford
- BBC News
Australian entertainer Barry Humphreys, best known for his comedic role as Dame Edna Everage, has died aged 89.
The star was in hospital in Sydney after suffering complications after hip surgery in March. He had a fall in February.
Humphries’ most famous work was a hit in the UK in the 1970s and her own television chat show, Dame Edna Average Experience, in the late 1980s.
His other figures include the treacherous alcoholic Sir Les Patterson.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese paid tribute to Humphries upon news of his death.
“A great wit, satirist, writer and a complete one-of-a-kind, he was both a gift and a gift.” Mr Albanese said.
In a statement, his family remembered him “completely as they were until the end, never losing his brilliant mind, his unique wit and generosity”.
They said Humphreys’ fans were “his most precious people” and “will live on as his characters who brought laughter to millions”.
Born in Melbourne, Humphreys moved to London in 1959, appearing in West End shows such as Maggie May and Oliver!
Inspired by the absurdist, avant-garde art movement Dada, he became a leading figure on the British comedy scene alongside contemporaries such as Alan Bennett, Dudley Moore and Spike Milligan.
Journalist and broadcaster Andrew Neil said he met Humphries in hospital two weeks ago: “His spirits and intelligence were as intense as ever,” he said.
“I feel lucky and privileged to see him one more time.”
Welsh actor and comedian Rob Brydon said Humphries was “a true genius who inspired me immeasurably” and was “happy to call him my friend”.
Dame Edna first appeared in 1950s Australia as a parody of suburban housewives – based on her own mother.
She became more ferocious as the years went by, and became famous for her pink-washed hair, shiny glasses and catchphrase: “Hello Possums!”
Humphreys wrote an autobiography, My Gorgeous Life, as the character.
His other famous characters on stage and screen include the very grandfatherly Sandy Stone.
He said of Stone in 2016 that “I could finally feel myself becoming him”.
The comedian, author, director and scriptwriter, who is also an avid 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 on his career.
His other credits include voicing Bruce the Shark in the 2003 Pixar animated film Finding Nemo, as well as appearances in 1967’s Bedazzled, Spice World, The Hobbit and Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.
He was married four times and is survived by his wife Lizzie Spender and four children.