LOVED comedian Barry Humphries – best known for creating character Dame Edna Everage – has died at the age of 89 of complications from surgery.
The legendary Australian entertainer was discharged from hospital just days ago but was admitted back after a health setback.
Born on February 17, 1934 in Melbourne, John Barry Humphries loved to dress up and act from an early age.
His parents were wealthy, but Humphries later said he was mostly left alone to enjoy himself.
He told an interviewer that he spent hours playing with a dress-up box in his back garden.
Humphries originally studied law, philosophy and fine arts at the University of Melbourne, but dropped out to pursue a career as an artist.
As part of his art, he often performed bizarre pranks, including pretending to eat his own “vomit.”
Humphries was just 21 years old when he created the character that would become world famous.
In 1955, during a tour with the newly formed Melbourne Theater Company, Mrs Norm Everage made her debut.
As Dame Edna, he appeared in several films, hosted television shows and wrote several books.
With her lilac hair and cat-eye glasses, the character became known around the world.
Humphries moved to London in 1959 where he befriended Britain’s top comedians and writers including Alan Bennett, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Spike Milligan.
He performed at The Establishment, a London nightclub owned by Peter Cook, and wrote for the satirical magazine Private Eye.
Humphries also appeared in the West End musical Oliver! and Maggie May.
He said his most famous character was partly based on his mother and partly on the “women mayors of the province” he met on a regional theater tour.
The name Edna comes from his beloved childhood nanny, he later explained.
In an interview with The Guardian last year, Humphries said of Edna: “She’s proven indestructible – and a very useful mouthpiece. For example, she can say things about political correctness that I couldn’t possibly express.”
Back in his native Australia, Humphries co-founded the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 1987.
Controversially, his name was removed from an award in 2018 following a backlash over comments he made about trans people.
Speaking to The Spectator, he said: “How many different types of toilets can you have? And it’s pretty nasty when it’s preached to kids by crazy teachers.”
In 2016, he also labeled gender reassignment surgeries as “self-mutilation” and branded transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner an “audience-seeking rat.”
However, he later claimed the comments had been “grossly misinterpreted”.
Humphries is survived by his fourth wife, Lizziespender, and their four children.
He marriedspender in 1990 and has two daughters and sons from his previous wives.
Explaining the secret of his long marriage tospender, Humphries said, “I’m a little bit smarter now. The truth is I’m not a very easy person to get married to.”