SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australians have paid tribute to Barry Humphries, the comedian best known for his character Dame Edna Everage, as both a “one-of-a-kind” entertainer and a charming and intelligent man.
The Sydney Morning Herald said Humphries died on Saturday at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, where he had been treated for various health issues. Humphries was 89.
Humphries, born and raised in Melbourne, rose to fame in Britain in the 1970s playing a host of Australian caricatures including Dame Edna, repulsive drunk diplomat Les Patterson and Sandy Stone, a decrepit rambling senior.
St Vincent’s Hospital chaplain Martin Maunsell said he met Humphries when the comedian was being treated for a fall, describing him as “charming” and “intelligent”.
“He was one of a kind,” Maunsell said. “I don’t think we’ll ever see someone like him ever again in Australia.”
In the beachside suburb of Coogee, Sydney resident Dani Kersh said Humphries was like a “complete ray of sunshine”.
“He provided a good dose of comedy and humour and entertainment across Australia. What a legend,” Kersh said.
Another Sydneysider, Lucy Bloom, said it felt like the character of Dame Edna would never come to an end.
“Dame Edna is a character you expect to live forever, so I was really, really shocked to see that we would have no more Dame Edna,” Bloom said “I met her in 2015 in San Francisco and will never forget.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese led the local tributes following Humphries’ death, calling him a “great wit, satirist, writer and an absolute one-of-kind”.
“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,” Albanese wrote on Twitter.
(Reporting by Jill Gralow, writing by Sam McKeith; Editing by Kim Coghill)