Barry Humphries aka Dame Edna, dead at 89

Australian comedian Barry Humphries, aka Dame Edna, has passed away following a long illness at 89.

In the eighties and nineties, before drag really entered the mainstream, Dame Edna was a household name, especially if you lived in the UK. The alter-ego of Australian comedian Barry Humphries, Deadline reports that the beloved star passed away at 89. The comedian had been unwell following hip surgery. In addition to Dame Edna, Humphries was also in high demand as a voice actor, having voiced Bruce the Shark in Finding Nemo and even dipped into motion capture to play the Great Goblin in The Hobbit trilogy.

But, it was Dame Edna that remained Humphries most iconic role. He apparently based the character on his mother, and she was a spoof of vainglorious celebrity interviewers, with Edna hosting a chat show that featured interviews with some of the biggest stars in the world. Mel Gibson, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Cher – if you were a star in the seventies, eighties and early nineties, you talked to Dame Edna. At the height of Humphries’ popularity, he even showed up (as Dame Edna) on Saturday Night Live. He also authored many books in the guise of Dame Edna and also had another long-running comedy character, Sir Les Patterson, who was basically Edna’s lecherous opposite.

Even if more people knew him as Dame Edna than as Barry Humphries, he was also fairly in demand as a character actor out of drag, showing up in the classic Beethoven biopic Immortal Beloved, Spice Worldand many more.