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Barry Humphries Aka Dame Edna Dead At 89




Comedian Barry Humphries, known to millions as the drag persona Dame Edna Everage has died. He was 89.



The 89-year-old was being treated for complications following a hip replacement in February, but had brushed aside recent concerns about his condition and even made plans for a countrywide tour, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.


“​He was completely himself until the very end, never losing his brilliant mind, his unique wit and generosity of spirit,” his family said in a statement on Saturday night.​ “​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 character of Dame Edna first appeared on stage in the 1955s in Humphries’ native Melbourne as the dowdy Mrs. Norm Everage.


She was meant to reflect a postwar suburban inertia and cultural blandness that Humphries found stifling, and he expected the role to be a one-week-long stand.


Humphries moved to London in 1959 and began appearing in West End productions, while frequently returning to Australian for one-man shows.


He created the role of Mr.Sowerberry in the original London production of “Oliver!” the musical based on Dickens’ “Oliver Twist.”


In 1972, Edna returned as “Aunt Edna” in the film “The Adventures of Barry McKenzie,” which was developed from a comic book character Humphries co-created a few years earlier.


Two years later, then-Australian Prime Minister Gou”gh Whitlam appeared in the sequel, “Barry McKenzie Holds His Own,” granting a damehood to Edna.


As Dame Edna, Humphries also wrote several books, including an autobiography, “My Gorgeous Life,” and appeared in several other films and television shows.


In 2000, he won a Tony for his Broadway show “Dame Edna: The Royal Tour.”


He toured the U.K. most recently in a one-man show last year, “Man Behind the Mask.”


He was featured as himself and as Dame Edna on a series of Australian stamps in 2006 and made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his contribution to the arts.


Dame Edna was just one of Humphries’ enduring characters. The next most famous was Sir Les Patterson, an ever-drunk, disheveled and lecherous Australian cultural attache.


A law school dropout, Humphries also worked as film producer, scriptwriter and landscape painter over his seven-decade career.


The father of four was based in London with his wife of 30 years, Lizzie Spender.


He is also survived by four children and 10 grandchildren.


“For 89 years, Barry Humphries entertained us through a galaxy of personas, from Dame Edna to Sandy Stone,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese tweeted, referring to the melancholic and rambling Stone, another of Humphries legendary personas. “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.”


Celebrities and admirers from around the globe also paid tribute to Humphries on social media.


“Farewell, Barry Humphries, you Comedy genius,” tweeted Ricky Gervais.


“One of the funniest people I’ve ever met,” posted Piers Morgan. “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.”


RIP Barry.


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