Barry Humphries, the Australian comedian known for playing Dame Edna Everage, has died at the age of 89.
He had been in hospital in Sydney after suffering complications following hip surgery in March.
Humphries played the lilac-haired drag persona Dame Edna, who was known for her love of gladiolus and her famous catchphrase “Hello Possums”, for more than 60 years. He also played the uncouth drunk Sir Les Patterson among other characters.
His family confirmed his death in a statement, saying “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,” the statement said. “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,” the family said. “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.”
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese paid tribute to Humphries saying despite all the characters he created “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,” he said.
Comedians Matt Lucas and Ricky Gervais led the tributes, calling Humphries a “comedy genius.”
Humphries is survived by his wife Lizzie Spender and four children.