71 Facts About Barry Humphries


John Barry Humphries was an Australian comedian, actor, author, and satirist.


Barry Humphries was best known for writing and playing his stage and television characters Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson.


Barry Humphries appeared in numerous stage productions, films, and television shows.


Barry Humphries was born on 17 February 1934 in the suburb of Kew in Melbourne, the son of Eric Barry Humphries, a construction manager, and his wife Louisa Agnes.


Barry Humphries's grandfather John George Humphries was an emigrant to Australia from Manchester, England in the late 1800s.


Barry Humphries's father was well-to-do and Barry grew up in a "clean, tasteful, and modern suburban home" on Christowel Street, Camberwell, then one of Melbourne's new "garden suburbs".


Barry Humphries's parents nicknamed him "Sunny Sam", and his early childhood was happy and uneventful.

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Barry Humphries responded by becoming a voracious reader, a collector of rare books, a painter, a theatre fan and a surrealist.


Barry Humphries spent two years studying at the University of Melbourne, where he studied Law, Philosophy and Fine Arts.


Barry Humphries did not graduate from university.


Barry Humphries was part of a group that made a series of Dada-influenced recordings in Melbourne from 1952 to 1953.


Barry Humphries had written and performed songs and sketches in university revues, so after leaving university he joined the newly formed Melbourne Theatre Company.


Barry Humphries credited his then mentor, Peter O'Shaughnessy, that without his "nurturing and promotion, the character of Edna Everage would have been nipped in the bud after 1956 and never come to flower, while the character of Sandy Stone would never have taken shape as a presence on the stage".


In 1957 Barry Humphries moved to Sydney and joined Sydney's Phillip Street Theatre, which became Australia's leading venue for revue and satirical comedy over the next decade.


Barry Humphries revived the Edna character and the revue proved to be a major hit, playing eight shows a week for 14 months.


In September 1957, Barry Humphries appeared as Estragon in Waiting for Godot, in Australia's first production of the Samuel Beckett play at the Arrow Theatre in Melbourne directed by Peter O'Shaughnessy who played Vladimir.


In 1959 Barry Humphries moved to London, where he lived and worked throughout the 1960s.


Barry Humphries performed at Cook's comedy venue The Establishment, where he became a friend of and was photographed by leading photographer Lewis Morley, whose studio was located above the club.


The bawdy cartoon satire of the worst aspects of Australians abroad was written by Barry Humphries and drawn by New Zealand born cartoonist Nicholas Garland.


Barry Humphries performed with Milligan in the 1968 production of Treasure Island in the role of Long John Silver.


Barry Humphries described working with Milligan as "one of the strangest and most exhilarating experiences of my career".


However, the song "That's Your Funeral" was omitted from the RCA Victor original Broadway cast album so Barry Humphries is not heard at all on it.


In 1997 Barry Humphries reprised the role of Fagin in Cameron Mackintosh's award-winning revival at the London Palladium.


Barry Humphries contributed to BBC Television's The Late Show, but Barry Humphries found his true calling with his one-man satirical stage revues, in which he performed as Edna Everage and other character creations including Sandy Stone.


In 1968 Barry Humphries returned to Australia to tour his one-man revue Just a Show; this production transferred to London's Fortune Theatre in 1969.

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In 1970 Humphries returned to Australia, where Edna Everage made her movie debut in John B Murray's The Naked Bunyip.


Barry Humphries featured in various roles in comedy performance films including The Secret Policeman's Other Ball and A Night of Comic Relief 2.


In 2003, Barry Humphries voiced the shark Bruce in the Pixar animated film Finding Nemo, using an exaggerated baritone Australian accent.


In 2015, Barry Humphries voiced the role of Wombo the Wombat in Blinky Bill the Movie.


Barry Humphries' forte was always his one-man satirical stage revues, in which he appeared as Edna Everage and other character creations, most commonly Les Patterson and Sandy Stone.


Barry Humphries mostly performed solo, but he was occasionally joined on stage by supporting dancers and an accompanist during the musical numbers.


Barry Humphries presented many successful shows in London, most of which he subsequently toured internationally.


Barry Humphries gained considerable notoriety with his next one-man revue, Just a Show, staged at London's Fortune Theatre in 1969.


Barry Humphries further developed the character of Edna Everage in his early 1970s shows, including A Load of Olde Stuffe and At Least You Can Say You've Seen It.


Barry Humphries's next show was Isn't It Pathetic at Barry Humphries's Age, and, like many of his shows, the title derives from the sarcastic remarks his mother often made when she took Humphries to the theatre to see superannuated overseas actors touring in Australia during his youth.


Barry Humphries made numerous theatrical tours in Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and in the Far and Middle East.


Barry Humphries wrote and starred in ABC-TV's The Life and Death of Sandy Stone, and presented the ABC social history series Barry Humphries' Flashbacks.


In 2007, Barry Humphries returned to the UK's ITV to host another comedy chat-show called The Dame Edna Treatment, a similar format to The Dame Edna Experience from 20 years earlier.


In May 2013, Australia's ABC Network announced that Barry Humphries would be joining the cast of Australian telemovie series, Jack Irish, playing a high-profile judge in the third movie in the series.


Barry Humphries appeared as Justice Loder in the 2014 "Dead Point" episode.


In 2000 Barry Humphries took his Dame Edna: The Royal Tour show to North America winning the inaugural Special Tony Award for a Live Theatrical Event in 2000 and won two National Broadway Theatre Awards for "Best Play" and for "Best Actor" in 2001.


In March 2012, Barry Humphries announced his retirement from live entertainment, stating that he was "beginning to feel a bit senior" and was planning to retire from show business.


Dan Ilic of Time Out Sydney stated that Barry Humphries delivered "a show that almost feels like a blue print for the foundations for the last fifty years of Australian comedy".


Helen Musa of CityNews gave a similarly positive review, referring to Barry Humphries being "as virile, as vulgar and as magnificent as ever" thanks to a "well researched" script.


Barry Humphries was probably best known for his drag persona Dame Edna Everage.

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Barry Humphries' character Sir Les Patterson was a boozy Australian cultural attache: dishevelled, uncouth, lecherous and coarse.


Barry Humphries alternated with Edna and Sandy Stone in Humphries' stage shows and typically featured in pre-recorded segments in Dame Edna's TV shows.


In December 1987, Barry Humphries appeared on the BBC Radio 4 program Today in a recorded interview in which he simultaneously played the characters of both Dame Edna and Sir Les.


Barry Humphries' character, Sandy Stone, was an elderly Australian man, either single or married with a daughter who died as a child.


Barry Humphries said in 2016 that "slowly the character has deepened, so I begin to understand and appreciate him, and finally feel myself turning into him".


Barry Humphries had two daughters, Tessa and Emily, and two sons, Oscar and Rupert, from his second and third marriages, to Rosalind Tong and Diane Millstead respectively.


Barry Humphries's status as 'a dissolute, guilt-ridden, self-pitying boozer' was undoubtedly one of the main reasons for the failure of his first marriage and was a contributing factor to the collapse of the second.


Barry Humphries' alcoholism reached a crisis point during a visit home to Australia in the early 1970s.


Barry Humphries was one of the many friends who tried in vain to help Peter Cook, who himself eventually died from alcohol-related illnesses.


Barry Humphries was a friend of the English poet John Betjeman until Betjeman's death in 1984.


Barry Humphries appeared in the 2013 documentary Chalky about his longtime friend and colleague Michael White, who produced many of Barry Humphries' first Dame Edna shows in the UK.


Barry Humphries spent much of his life immersed in music, literature and the arts.


Barry Humphries was a prominent art collector who, as a result of his three divorces, bought many of his favourite paintings four times.


Barry Humphries himself was a landscape painter and his pictures are in private and public collections both in his homeland and abroad.


Barry Humphries was the subject of numerous portraits by artist friends, including Clifton Pugh and John Brack.


Barry Humphries enjoyed avant-garde music and was a patron of, among others, the French composer Jean-Michel Damase and the Melba Foundation in Australia.


Barry Humphries was a patron and active supporter of the Tait Memorial Trust in London, a charity to support young Australian performing artists in the UK.


In 2018, Barry Humphries was criticised on social media for making comments considered by some to be transphobic.


Barry Humphries's brother Christopher worked as an architect, his brother Michael was a teacher and historian, and his sister Barbara is a former schoolteacher.


Barry Humphries died following complications from hip surgery at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney on 22 April 2023.

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Tributes to Barry Humphries were given by members of the British royal family including Charles III and Sarah, Duchess of York, and by Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese and Western Australian premier, Mark McGowan.


Barry Humphries was the author of many books, including two autobiographies, two novels and a treatise on Chinese drama in the goldfields.


Barry Humphries wrote several plays and made dozens of recordings.


Barry Humphries has been the subject of several critical and biographical studies and a TV documentary:.


Barry Humphries was nominated four times for a British Academy Television Award, all in the Best Light Entertainment Performance category:.


Barry Humphries received national honours in Australia and the United Kingdom:.