Barry Humphries, Dame Edna Comedian, Dies at 89

Barry Humphries as Dame Edna in 'Dame Edna's Hollywood'
Paul Drinkwater/NBC/Courtesy: Everett Collection
Barry Humphries in NBC’s ‘Dame Edna’s Hollywood’ in 1992

Barry Humphries, who spent decades in and out of drag as he played Dame Edna and other outlandish characters, has died. The Australian comedian was 89.

A Sydney hospital confirmed Humphries’ death, noting he passed away on Saturday, April 22, several days after undergoing hip surgery, according to The New York Times.

“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, per The Guardian. “​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. ​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 n all its forms. He was also a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, and a friend and confidant to many.”

Barry Humphries as Dame Edna in 'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie'

David Appleby/Fox Searchlight/Courtesy: Everett Collection

Anthony Albanese, Australia’s prime minister, also honored Humphries, tweeting, “For 89 years, Barry Humphries entertained us through a galaxy of personas, from Dame Edna to Sandy Stone. 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. May he rest in peace.”

In the United States, Humphries brought his drag persona Dame Edna to Saturday Night Live in 1977, recurred on Ally McBeal in 2001 and 2002, and made a half dozen appearances on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno between 2001 and 2011.

Fellow comedians are mourning on Twitter, including Ricky Gervais, who called Humphries a “comedy genius.”

Rory Bremner tweeted that the satirist was “lightning quick, subversive, mischievous, widely read, deeply knowledgeable about art, music, and literature, and savagely funny.”

And Frankie Boyle declared that Humphries “superseded Groucho Marx as the greatest ever writer and deliverer of insults.”