Australian comedian Barry Humphries has died aged 89.
Humphries – best known for his comedy characters, including Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson – died in hospital on Saturday (22 April) surrounded by his family.
Earlier this week, reports emerged that the comedian had been admitted to a Sydney hospital with “serious health problems” following complications arising from a recent hip replacement surgery.
A spokesperson for St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney confirmed that the entertainer had died on Saturday at around 7pm AEST.
A statement from his family read: “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.”
It continued: “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.
“He was also a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, and a friend and confidant to many. His passing leaves a void in so many lives.
“The characters he created, which brought laughter to millions, will live on.”
Appearing on Sunrise on Australia’s Channel 7 on 19 April, journalist Peter Ford announced that there were “serious concerns” for Humphries, who was in hospital at the time.
In February, the legendary comedian was forced to undergo surgery after tripping on a rug at home. Following the operation, he was given a titanium hip. Humphries later joked that he could now be called “Bionic Bazza”.
In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald in March, Humphries recalled that he had been in “agony” after the incident and was underdoing “very painful” sessions with a physiotherapist.
He deflected any concerns for his health, however, telling the publication: “I have to get back on my feet ... I’m going back on tour later this year. The result of my broken hip means I now have a titanium hip... you can call me Bionic Bazza.”
The Melbourne-born entertainer moved to London in 1959, where he appeared in West End productions including Maggie May and Oliver!
Dame Edna Everage – arguably his best-known character, instantly identifiable by her purple hair and extravagant glasses – first appeared in the Fifties when Humphries was living in Australia.
The character was a parody of suburban housewives. Humphries based Dame Edna on his own mother.
In the late Eighties, Dame Edna landed her own talk show in the UK titled The Dame Edna Experience. Humphries took the format to the US in the Nineties, launching Dame Edna’s Hollywood.
The comedian, author, director and scriptwriter’s other credits include appearances in Bedazzled (1967), Spice World (1997), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), and Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016).
Humphries also provided the voice for the shark Bruce in the animated 2003 film Finding Nemo.
He was married four times. Humphries leaves behind his wife of 30 years, Lizzie Spender, and four children.
Tributes have poured in following the news of Humphries’ death, including a message from Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese.
“A great wit, satirist, writer and an absolute one-of-[a]-kind, he was both gifted and a gift,” said Albanese.
Ricky Gervais and Rob Brydon were among a host of others to pay tribute to the late star.
Gervais wrote: “Farewell, Barry Humphries, you comedy genius.”
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