Australian comic Humphries died in a hospital in Sydney on Saturday (22 April) at age 89 after experiencing “serious health problems” following a recent hip replacement surgery.
One of Humphries’ best-known comedy personas is that of drag queen Dame Edna, recognisable for her lilac hair, outlandish glasses and eccentric personality.
Ahead of his death, Humphries wrote a memorial essay for himself from Dame Edna’s perspective.
Published in The Telegraph, the short, tongue-in-cheek letter details how Humphries and the Dame’s professional relationship began and how her star eclipsed his.
“It is true that he put me on stage for the first time in December 1955, but it was in order to belittle me and get cheap laughs at my expense and ridicule the great Australian way of life,” Dame Edna “writes”.
“How the tables were turned! I became the star and he merely a footnote to my spectacular career.”
Elsewhere in the obituary, Edna warns of what happens when artists don’t achieve success – “Hitler, for example – they either become interior decorators or mass murderers” – before acknowledging Humphries’ surviving family.
She adds: “He had a lovely family and my heart goes out to them as well as to his unfortunate wives and numerous stage-struck research assistants.”
Since the news of Humphries’ death broke, fellow comic figures such as Matt Lucas and Jimmy Carr have paid tribute.
In a tweet, Ricky Gervais named him as a “comedy genius”, while broadcaster Dame Esther Rantzen paid tribute to Humphries as a “cultured and clever” friend.
“I’m very sad. I think we’ve lost a source of so much fun and someone I have worked with since the mid-1960s and liked and admired so much,” Rantzen told the PA news agency.
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