Australian Comedy Legend Barry Humphries Dies Aged 89 -
Dame Edna

Barry Humpries as Dame Edna

Australian Comedy Legend Barry Humphries Dies Aged 89

by Paul Cashmere on April 22, 2023

in News

Australian comedy legend Barry Humphries has died in Sydney at age 89.

Humphries, best known for his character Dame Edna Everage, was readmitted to St Vincent’s Hospital on Wednesday 19 April 2023. His sons have travelled from London to be with their father.

Barry Humphries had hip replacement surgery recently and in February tripped and the condition worsened.

John Barry Humphries was born in Melbourne on 17 February, 1934. He studied at the University of Melbourne and after leaving Uni joined the Melbourne Theatre Company where he created the character of Mrs Norm Everage in December 1955. The character evolved to become Dame Edna Everage.

By 1958 the character of Mrs Everage and Sandy Stone were introduced to a wider theatre audience in the show Rock’n’Reel Revue at the New Theatre in Melbourne. Humphries made his first recording, the EP ‘Wild Life In Suburbia’ also that year.

In 1959, Barry Humphries moved to London and became part of the London comedy scene with new acts Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Spike Milligan. Milligan started to include his new friend in both his stage and radio productions which led to his first major break in the role of Mr Sowerberry in the first London production of ‘Oliver’ in 1960. In 1967 he joined the cast again playing Fagin with a very young (16 year old) Phil Collins as the Artful Dodger.

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore placed Barry as Envy in their 1967 movie ‘Bedazzled’. This was around the time the Les Patterson character was created.

Edna Everage made her first movie appearance in 1970 in John B. Murray’s ‘The Naked Bunyip’. The character took off a year later when Humphries and writer/director Bruce Beresford created the film version of the Barry McKenzie cartoon. The movie starred Barry Crocker as Barry McKenzie and Humphries playing three characters including Aunt Edna. Filming took place in Australia and England. Humphries paid his pals Cook and Moore back with a part in the film.

Edna had a back story. She was born Edna May Beazley in Wagga Wagga and had a sibling who was Barry McKenzie’s parent. Edna married Norm Everage and lived in the Melbourne suburb of Mooney Ponds. She became the friends of world leaders befriending Queen Elizabeth who made her a Dame.

Edna had four children but the youngest Lois was abducted by a rogue koala on an outback holiday.

Melbourne now has Dame Edna Place off Little Collins Street. There is also now an Everage Street in Moonee Ponds.

Barry Humphries was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1982 and received the title Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2007.

Dame Edna with then Prince Charles at a Royal Performance:

Barry Humphries married four times. He had two daughters and two sons. He has two brothers and a sister. His brother Michael died in 2020. Christopher and Barbara live in Melbourne.

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