Dame Edna Creator Dies

Aussie comedian Barry Humphries was 89
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 22, 2023 8:33 AM CDT
Dame Edna Creator Dies
Australian entertainer Barry Humphries poses for pictures after he received his Most Excellent Order of the British Empire from Britain's Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, London, on Oct. 10, 2007.   (Steve Parsons/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Tony Award-winning comedian Barry Humphries, internationally renowned for his garish stage persona Dame Edna Everage, a condescending and imperfectly-veiled snob whose evolving character has delighted audiences over seven decades, has died. He was 89. His death was confirmed Saturday by the Sydney hospital where he spent several days with complications following hip surgery. Humphries had lived in London for decades and returned to his native Australia in December for Christmas. He told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper last month that his physiotherapy had been "agony" following a 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. 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 AP reports. The next most famous is Sir Les Patterson, an ever-drunk, disheveled and lecherous Australian cultural attache.

Humphries, a law school dropout, found major success as an actor, writer and entertainer in Britain in the 1970s, but the United States was an ambition that he found stubbornly elusive. A high point in the United States was a Tony Award in 2000 for his Broadway show "Dame Edna: The Royal Tour." Humphries remained an active entertainer, touring Britain last year with his one-man show "The Man Behind the Mask." Married four times, he is survived by his wife Lizzie Spender and four children.

(More obituary stories.)

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