Late entertainer Barry Humphries was in a lengthy and grueling battle with an inoperable cancer last week, as details of his final days are revealed.
The Australian comedy legend, 89, died last Saturday night at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney.
Those closest to Humphries gathered on Friday for a private funeral service at the estate of longtime friend and artist Tim Storrier in Bowral, in the NSW Southern Highlands.
Humphries’ wife of three decades, Lizzie Spender, and children Tessa, Emily, Rupert and Oscar, joined friends to say goodbye to the legend, who was best known for his iconic Dame Edna character.
Humphries pictured with wife Lizzie Spender, who was part of an intimate gathering to say goodbye to the great comedian who passed away following a battle with cancer and complications from hip surgery
Close family sources have confirmed that Humphries’ health challenges were more serious and complex than previously reported, according to the Daily telegram.
In 2021, he was diagnosed with a rare form of pre-invasive skin cancer – Paget’s extramammary disease – on one of his testicles, requiring surgery.
Paget’s extramammary disease is a rare dermatologic condition that often occurs in areas where apocrine sweat glands are abundant, and usually occurs in the sixth to eighth decade of life.
When Humphries underwent hip replacement surgery after breaking his hip in a fall in February, the extent of the cancer was revealed and he spent his final weeks saying goodbye to family and friends.
It is believed that in his last heartbreaking days Humphries continued to display humor in the company of loved ones, doctors and nurses.
“He was completely himself until the end and never lost his brilliant mind, his unique wit and generosity,” his family said in a statement.
Humphries portrayed as Dame Edna Everage, one of his most memorable personas
Plans to stage one last concert tour were thwarted by his prognosis, which would take his own life within six weeks.
Oscar and half-sister Emily’s reunion with their father would have made for some emotional hospital scenes.
Film director Bruce Beresford, British comedian Rob Brydon, British journalist Andrew Neal and writer Kathy Lette also attended Friday’s service.
Mr Beresford said no speeches were made, but excerpts were read from some of Mr Humphries’ favorite poems, including his favorite poem, The Heart of a Friend by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Film director Bruce Beresford was an old friend of Barry Humphries
“It was very moving, very warm. Everyone was related or a close friend of Barry’s,’ Mr Beresford said.
Mr Beresford, who directed Humphries in 1972’s The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, described his friend’s death as ‘terribly sad’.
“I watched it fade,” he said.
King Charles also expressed his condolences to the family.
His family was previously in talks with the Victorian government about a possible state funeral for the star, but it remains unclear whether that will go ahead.
Victoria’s Creative Industries Minister Steve Dimopoulos revealed earlier this week that talks were underway with the entertainer’s loved ones about the best ways to honor his legacy.
“The main driver of these things is the family, because it is their gift to decide effectively in dialogue with the government,” Dimopoulos said on Sunday.
“So yes, that could be it (a state funeral),” he added.
Humphries, who had been raised Anglican but no longer considered himself religious, was cremated during the week.