Legendary Australian comedian Barry Humphries has been remembered for his array of wild and colourful characters played throughout his lifetime.
Though he is best known for creating and playing Dame Edna Everage, he also embodied several other great characters in his very long career in show business.
Nothing was off-limits for the beloved entertainer’s bawdy, cheeky humour, not even his own age and the limits of time.
In an interview with ABC Melbourne’s Jon Faine in 2012, when Humphries was 78, he joked about entering ‘middle age’ and so had to slow down a bit.
He created and portrayed many iconic characters, including his most famous, a cantankerous woman who became bigger and better known than her creator.
Daily Mail Australia has compiled a list of some of Humphries most loved, outrageous and memorable alter-egos.
The legendary Australian comedian Barry Humphries (pictured playing Dame Edna Everage) took his final bow on Saturday, 89 years into a life well lived
Dame Edna Everage
Dame Edna is up there with AC/DC, INXS, Cate Blanchett, Thomas Keneally, Baz Luhrmann and Kylie Minogue atop Australia’s best known cultural exports chart.
Humphries introduced what would become his best known character as Mrs Norm Everage in a stage show in 1955; her surname being a play on how many Melburnians pronounce the letter A as an E.
Initially, Everage was a quiet, dowdy suburban housewife, but as she developed over the following decades, she glammed up with jewels, fancy glasses and purple hair.
She also became feistier and feistier, with a sarcastic strength that could strip wallpaper if given a chance.
He name changed too, from Mrs Norm Everage to Aunt Edna and then Dame, which was conferred on her by then Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam in the film The Adventures of Barry McKenzie.
The 1980s was a larger-than-life decade, and Dame Edna was one of those who best embodied that spirit, with her fame going supernova through TV shows.
The Dame Edna Experience saw her introduce each show by saying ‘Hello possums!’ and then roasting the likes of take of Sean Connery, Liza Minnelli and Cliff Richard.
Humphries toured around the world and made his fortune as Edna, with the Dame making her final appearance on a BBC show in 2019.
Sir Les Patterson (pictured) was an odious creation, whose character was a former Minister for Inland Drainage who later became Australia’s Cultural Attaché to the Far East
Sir Les Patterson
Sir Les was an odious creation, whose character was a former Minister for Inland Drainage who later became Australia’s Cultural Attaché to the Far East.
With his spotty, red face, Patterson seemed permanently drunk, which was a cover of sorts for the politically incorrect, far from woke way he behaved.
‘No story is too filthy, no gesture too lewd, no idea too racist,’ was how Humphries described Sir Les in the 2008 documentary The Man Inside Dame Edna.
He also said Patterson was his character that most offended Australians, because they found his behaviour a little too accurate.
Despite, or maybe because of that, Sir Les – who was introduced in 1974 as a warm-up act for Dame Edna – was the character Humphries most enjoyed playing.
While Edna at least pretended to be nice while skewering everyone around her, there was no such pretence with Sir Les, who had manners or self-awareness.
Patterson didn’t even have any time for his creator, saying ‘I met Barry Humphries only about twice in my life, and it was two times too many.
‘He’s up himself, and I don’t get the point of him.’
Barry Humphries (left) is pictured with his wife Lizzie Spender on December 18, 1993 in London
This boozy, ladies man was a tale of three Barrys. Barry McKenzie was created by Barry Humphries and played on film by Barry Crocker.
But before he made it to the silver screen, McKenzie was part of a cartoon Humphries created by for Private Eye, a London-based satirical magazine.
Humphries used his creation to have a laugh at expense of the huge number of Australians who congregated around Earl’s Court in London and enjoyed a beer.
‘He was sick in almost every episode. It’s surprising that beer ever took off,’ Humphries told fellow Australian Clive James in 1987.
The 1972 film The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, saw the Australian boofhead drink heavily and sleep around in London’s swinging ’60s era.
Neatly tying things together, McKenzie’s aunt was Edna Everage, but Edna would never have approved of her nephew’s crude carry on.
The greatest contribution the film, and its follow up, Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, made was in giving Australian phrases a bigger audience around the world.
It is because of them that the ‘technicolour yawn’ – the Aussie slang for vomit – became widely known, along with a few others too filthy to print.
Barry Humphries is pictured with his then wife Diane and their baby Oscar Valentine on April 27, 1981
Humphries said Sandy Stone was a man who lived an ‘uneventful and uninteresting’ life.
He created Stone in the late 1950s – after Melbourne had come to international attention through hosting the 1956 Olympics – to satirise the sleepy suburban city it reverted to being after the international focus was gone.
Sandy wore a dressing gown and held a hot water bottle — which Humphries said was really filled with hot water — and told very dull stories in a very dull voice.
‘I thought I would write about someone — and subsequently do it on the stage — who would talk to the audience very, very boringly and see how much boredom they could take,’ Humphries said.
To his great surprise, Stone became one of Humphries’s most popular creations.
The character was killed off in the 1970s, but his popularity was so high, he was brought back as a ghost in later years.
Australian comedian Barry Humphries (pictured) has been remembered for the many great characters he created
Bruce the shark
Many people who are now young adults first encountered Humphries scaring them as the voice of Bruce the great white shark in the 2003 film Finding Nemo.
Though he frightened many in the audience, bringing a bit of Sir Les Patterson to the shark character, it introduced him to a new generation and reminded others of his great talents.
Other TV and film appearances
Humphries also played parts in the hit TV show Ally McBeal, the 2016 Absolutely Fabulous film as the wart-covered Great Goblin in The Hobbit.
Closer to home, Humphries played Justice Loder to great acclaim in the ABC private detective series Jack Irish.