Barry Humphries, who created the beloved drag character Dame Edna Everage, has passed away at 89 years old.
The shocking news was confirmed on 22 April by the Australian comedian’s family in a statement.
“He was completely himself until the very end, never losing his brilliant mind, his unique wit and generosity of spirit,” they said.
“With over 70s 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.
“His audiences were precious to him, and he never took them for granted… The characters he created, which brought laughter to millions, will live on.”
Days before his passing, Humphries was admitted to the hospital to “receive treatment” after suffering complications from his hip replacement surgery in March, per CNN.
Since the 1950s, the 89-year-old ruled the comedy sphere with his popular roster of fictional characters, including Dame Edna.
Across five decades, Humphries’ and his drag persona appeared in numerous films, TV shows, and stage plays – resulting in him earning prestigious accolades like a Special Tony Award, an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
However, despite his monumental impact on pop culture and the arts, the comedian’s career has also been marred with controversy due to his numerous transphobic statements.
Back in 2016, Humphries defended philosopher Germaine Greer’s anti-trans viewpoints in which she said trans women were “men who believe that they are women and have themselves castrated.”
“I agree with Germaine! You’re a mutilated man, that’s all. Self-mutilation, what’s all this carry on?” he told The Telegraph.
Two years later, he claimed that being transgender was “a fashion” when speaking to The Spectator Magazine.
“How many different kinds of lavatory can you have? And it’s pretty evil when it’s preached to children by crazy teachers,” he said in 2018.
Humphries’ anti-trans comments spawned immense backlash from fans at the time, which resulted in him claiming that they were “grotesquely interpreted” in 2019.
In the wake of Humphries’ passing, his fans and industry peers have taken to social media to reflect on his decades-long career.
In a statement to Twitter, Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described him as “the brightest star in that galaxy.”
“A great wit, satirist, writer and an absolute one-of-kind, he was both gifted and a gift. May he rest in peace,” he added.
Drag Race star Courtney Act echoed similar sentiments while also shedding light on his “disappointing” anti-trans views.
“Vale Barry Humphries. I’ve been watching lots of Dame Edna clips on YouTube recently. Admiring them, studying them, enjoying them, remembering them. He created a character that was so brilliant, irreverent, loved and accepted,” she wrote.
“Things get complex when it comes to separating the art from the artist and the disappointing views he has expressed about trans people, and other topics, in his later years, but I don’t have to agree with everything he said to acknowledge his impact and influence on me and on society.”
Humphries leaves behind his wife, Lizzie Spender and four children.
View this post on Instagram