Barry Humphries dies aged 89: Tributes pour in for 'one-of-a-kind' Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson star

22 April 2023, 11:46 | Updated: 22 April 2023, 22:44

Barry Humphries was behind legendary characters such as Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson
Barry Humphries was behind legendary characters such as Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson. Picture: Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Tributes have been pouring in for the Australian entertainer and comedian Barry Humphries, who has died at the age of 89.

The comedian, best known for his alter ego Dame Edna Everage, was admitted to Sydney’s St. Vincent’s Hospital earlier this week.

Humphries underwent hip replacement surgery after tripping on a rug while grabbing a book back in February.

Weeks ago the entertainer revealed he was in "agony" after his fall at home.

At the time, he said he was hoping to be back on his feet in time for another 'one man show' to be held later this year.

'One-of-a-kind, a genius'

Barry Humphries in character as Dame Edna Everage at the announcement of the Barry Humphries' Farewell Tour at The London Palladium
Barry Humphries in character as Dame Edna Everage at the announcement of the Barry Humphries' Farewell Tour at The London Palladium. Picture: Alamy

Tributes have been pouring in following the announcement, including from his family.

A statement from the Humphries family reads: "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 to his core, touring up until the last year of his life and planning more shows that will sadly never be."

“His audiences were precious to him, and he never took them for granted.

"Although he may be best remembered for his work in theatre, he was a painter, author, poet, and a collector and lover of art in all its forms."

Read More: Barry Humphries' family gathers at Dame Edna comedian’s bedside

Meanwhile, comedians and entertainers from across the world have described Humphries in glowing terms.

Comedian Dara O Briain has described Barry Humphries as "one of the absolute funniest people ever".

"RIP Barry Humphries, one of the absolute funniest people ever," O Briain tweeted.

"A huge life, lived long and well. He will be missed."

Comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted: "Farewell, Barry Humphries, you Comedy genius."

Matt Lucas added: "I wonder if all geniuses are as lovely as Barry Humphries. Thank you for delighting and inspiring us. Quite simply, you were the greatest."

Andrew Neil speaking to Matt Frei about Barry Humphries death

Meanwhile, broadcaster Andrew Neil has said he visited Humphries in hospital two weeks ago when his "spirits and wit were as acute as ever".

"So sad to learn Barry Humphries has passed away," he tweeted.

"When I visited him in his Sydney hospital two weeks ago he was ailing from several health problems.

"But his spirits and wit were as acute as ever. We laughed away as the stories poured out. Funny, hugely literate, fiercely smart.

"I count myself lucky and privileged I got to see him one more time. A comic genius the likes of which we will never see again."

Hello possums!

Barry Humphries
Barry Humphries. Picture: Alamy

Humphries was born in Melbourne in 1934.

He had an affluent upbringing, but rebelled by taking an interest in art and absurdism.

Aside from comedy, Humphries also had a distinguished career in theatre, appearing in numerous West End shows.

He was a patron of music and arts, and through his lengthy career wrote scripts, produced films, and worked as a landscape painter.

In 2010, biographer Anne Pender described Humphries as the most significant comedian since Charlie Chaplin.

Read More: Barry Humphries’ estranged daughter joins the Dame Edna Everage star at his bedside in hospital in Australia

Dame Edna, Humphries' alter ego, first appeared in the 1950s.

It was a parody of suburban housewives, thought to be based on his own mum.

"Edna was painfully shy at first," Humphries told the Guardian.

"Hard to believe!"

She went onto coin the infamous catch phrase: "Hello possums!"

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