From charming the British royal family, performing with Kylie Minogue and exchanging fashion tips with Princess Diana, Barry Humphries provided many unforgettable moments during his nearly 70-year career in show business.
The comedian, who died Saturday aged 89 from complications following hip surgery, also had an eclectic circle of friends that included Peter Cook, Salvador Dali and The Beatles.
Humphries was surrounded by his children and wife of 30 years Lizzie Spender when he died at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney.
For weeks, the comic had dismissed concerns about the seriousness of his condition, but a spokesperson confirmed on Saturday that he had died.
Humphries tripped over a rug while reaching for a book in February and underwent surgery at St Vincent’s, where he was readmitted this week.
In a statement, his family said: “He was completely himself to the end and never lost his brilliant mind, his unique wit and generosity.”
They added that he was “also a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather and a friend and confidant to many.” His passing leaves a void in so many lives.’
Biographer Anne Pender wrote in 2010 that Humphries was both “the most important comedian to emerge since Charlie Chaplin” and “the most important theatrical figure of our time.”
Here, Daily Mail Australia takes a look at some of the most iconic moments from the comedy legend behind Dame Edna Everage and and Sir Les Patterson.
The Australian comedy legend, who died Saturday at the age of 89 following complications from hip surgery, had an eclectic circle of friends, from Peter Cook to Salvador Dali and The Beatles. He is depicted as Dame Edna
Charming the Queen, joking around with Princess Margaret and some very surprising conversations with King Charles
Throughout his career, Barry – and Edna – have met and charmed most of the royal family, from the late Queen herself to the Queen Mother and King Charles.
Dame Edna famously exchanged fashion tips with Princess Diana and commented on two royal weddings, including Prince Andrew’s to Sarah Ferguson in 1986.
But it was through the English poet John Betjeman that Humphries had a very memorable non-encounter with Princess Margaret.
“I was on stage in Treasure Island with Willie Rushton and Spike Milligan, and after the show we all went to the bar,” he recalls. Unpleasant Weekend magazine last year.
One night the bartender yelled, “Call for you, Barry. She says she’s Princess Margaret.” So I went to the phone and the voice on the other end of the line said, ‘Hello, this is Princess Margaret. I have Sir John Betjeman here. We want you to join us for dinner now.’
“I thought it was a hoax so I laughed and put the phone down. Well, it turned out it really had been Princess Margaret, which didn’t bode well for our next meeting. I saw it in a certain froideur when I was introduced to her in a line-up. It was clear she hadn’t been very pleased.’
Then there was the Lord Snowdon incident. Barry was friends with the composer Stanley Myers, and one night they went out for dinner at Chez Moi, a trendy restaurant in London’s Holland Park.
“I had a habit of dropping my pants after a few sips to shock people. Lord Snowdon and some friends sat at another table. Stanley urged me to do my “trick,” so on the way back from the gentlemen, I dropped my trousers to my ankles as I passed Snowdon’s party.
‘ Back at my table, the head waiter came over and told me to leave. Lord Snowdon was apparently not amused. Two burly waiters lifted me out of my chair and pushed me out onto the street. I couldn’t get back in because the door was locked from the inside.’
Barry says he called Princess Margaret thinking it was a hoax. Pictured: Barry as Dame Edna with the Queen in 1977
Undeterred, Barry found a payphone and called the restaurant.
“When they answered, I said in my best whistle, ‘Can I speak to Lord Snowdon, please? It’s his mother.’ When he got on the phone I said, ‘Tony, how dare you be so rude to my dear friend Barry. He is very nice, but he is prone to these pranks.’
“You’ll have to excuse him, especially if I remember some of the things you did before you got married. So apologize and buy him a big bottle of champagne.
“I believe he’s outside the restaurant now.” Snowdon sputtered at the end of the line, “Who’s this?” Then I put the phone down.’
Despite his close ties to royalty, Humphries eschews the usual pomp and circumstance when mingling with relatives.
Instead of a stiff upper lip, when hosting anniversary coverage, he was twice seen referring to Her Majesty by his famous catchphrase, “possum.”
“Here’s the Jubilee Girl, possums,” he said in 2002 when he co-hosted the Party at the Palace concert to mark the Queen’s 50th anniversary.
After meeting the Queen in 2008 when he received his Commander of the British Empire medal from Her Majesty, he revealed that she was a fan.
“She said she was greatly entertained by many of my shows,” he said.
“I have just celebrated my 50th year on stage, so it is a great honor that my sovereign can bestow this on me, and I am very, very happy.
“I like medals and things like that.”
Barry said that Kylie Minogue (pictured together) is one of nature’s life improvers
Chasing Kylie Minogue off the podium
Although he often interacted with the British royal family, the comedian was also close friends with Australia’s pop princess.
“She’s gorgeous, beautiful inside and out, and she’s had a great career,” Barry said of Kylie Minogue in 2022.
“She is one of nature’s life improvers. I know her parents and sometimes have lunch with her father.’
But at London’s Royal Festival Hall in 1999, playing the role of Sir Les, he chased the hitmaker off the stage.
“I know many of you ask what Les Patterson is doing in a beautiful venue like this?” he told the audience.
“And I’m telling you, I’m asking the same question.”
He later performed a duet with Kylie, who said, “Dear old Sir Les got a little carried away. I said to Barry afterwards, “You’re very naughty and you deserve a good slap.”
“Kylie Minogue being chased off stage by a phallus-wielding Australian diplomat seemed like a first in a way,” added Humphries.
“For me, at least, it was a taste of the scandalous old days.”
Telling the world that Tom Jones had ‘work done’
Known for his cheeky appearances on chat shows, Dame Edna was a favorite guest of British presenter Michael Parkinson.
In 2002 she performed alongside Welsh singer Tom Jones.
Usually known for his cool personality, the Sex Bomb hitmaker got excited when Dame Edna insinuated he had “done a little work.”
Dame Edna ignored his protests, insisting that Jones had “tightened up a bit here and there,” but captivated him by saying “the point is you’re still relatable and that’s what I like.”
“Some people go to these cosmetic surgeons and they forget, before the anesthesia takes over, to say, ‘I want people to know who I am when I come out.’
“They go in like a Mercedes and they come out like the back of a Ford Mondeo.”