(CNN) Australian comedian Barry Humphries, best known for his drag character Dame Edna Everage, has died aged 89.
“He was completely himself to the end, never losing his brilliant mind, his unique wit and generosity,” his family said in a statement.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese paid tribute in a tweet, calling him “a brilliant wit, satirist, writer and absolute one-of-a-kind”.
He followed up with a tribute statement, calling Humphries a great Australian and a comedic genius.
“He was one of the most loved people by Australians and I pay tribute to him today — for his enormous contribution to Australia,” Albanese told a news conference in Brisbane.
“Barry Humphries, in his 89 years, made an enormous contribution to Australia and brought that unique Australian sense of humor to the world,” Albanese added.
He was readmitted to hospital on Wednesday for complications following hip surgery last month, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Humphries underwent a hip replacement following a collapse in February.
Born in Melbourne, Australia in 1934, Humphreys created the housewife Edna Everage as a social satire in 1955. The role became a huge success in the 1970s when Humphreys brought the act to London’s West End and appeared in numerous productions, television shows and chat shows.
Before Edna made it big, Humphries appeared in several West End productions in the 1960s, including “Oliver” and “Maggie Way.”
Pink hair, diamond-encrusted cat glasses, and “Hello Possums!” Edna quickly became a national treasure, known for catch phrases like
Throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, Humphreys landed a series of TV talk shows, specials and movies as Dame Edna and her other impersonators, Les Patterson and Sandy Stone, including The Dame Edna Experience in 1987.
Humphreys, whose illustrious career has spanned more than 60 years, has received numerous awards. In 1982, Humphreys was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (OA) for services to drama, and in 2007 the Queen made him a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his contribution to the arts.
In 2000, Humphreys officially entered the American market, winning a special Tony Award for her Broadway show “Dame Edna, The Royal Tour.” She also appeared as Edna in the 2001 American drama “Ally McBeal”.
An actor, director and screenwriter, Humphries wrote many books, novels, biographies and plays, and was also an avid landscape painter.
In 2011, Humphries appeared on CNN as Dame Edna alongside Piers Morgan to provide commentary on the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, saying, “I’m a bit bored of being a teenager”.
Humphreys toured the UK in 2022, then aged 88, recounting his life stories and inspirations in a set called “The Man Behind the Mask”.
His career was not without controversy. In 2019, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival dropped their prestigious Barry Award named after the comedian, following controversial comments Humphries made to audiences the previous year about transgender people, CNN affiliate 7 News reported. In an interview with the magazine, Humphreys came under fire for describing transgenderism as a “fashion”.
Humphries later denied being transphobic and said the comments were taken out of context.
Humphreys is survived by his wife Lizzie Spender and four children.
“Friend of animals everywhere. Devoted analyst. Total alcohol scholar. Infuriatingly humble food trailblazer.”