Fans of the late entertainment legend Barry Humphries will now have the chance to farewell the iconic entertainer after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed details of his state memorial.
Humphries died on Saturday, April 22 at the age of 89.
Following a fall at his home in Sydney in February, Humphries was readmitted to the hospital due to complications following hip surgery. Sadly, it was there that the comedic genius behind the beloved characters of Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson passed away.
As the world continues to mourn his loss, Humphries’ contribution to Australian arts and entertainment will be recognised and honoured after his family accepted the offer of a state memorial service.
The service will be held at the Sydney Opera House on Friday, December 15, and will be co-hosted by the Australian and NSW Governments, in partnership with the arts community from across the country, including Humphries’ home state of Victoria.
While announcing the upcoming memorial, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Humphries’ passing was “a huge loss to the arts community”.
“The Australian Government is pleased to work with the New South Wales Government to deliver a State Memorial to honour the life and legacy of this beloved entertainer,” he said.
Given its connection to the arts, the Sydney Opera House is considered a “fitting location” to bid farewell and honour the legacy of one of Australia’s entertainment greats.
Family, friends, and dignitaries are expected to join fans in celebrating Humphries’ life and career achievements during the service.
NSW Premier Chris Minns believes the farewell at the Sydney Opera House will “be a memorable send-off” for the star.
“Barry Humphries was one of our nation’s greatest ever comedic talents, and his passing marks the end of an era in Australian entertainment,” Minns said.
“He was a true master of his craft, and his legacy will continue to live on through the unforgettable characters he brought to life on stage and screen.
“The Sydney Opera House is a fitting location for what promises to be a memorable send-off given the venue’s significance in Australian arts, culture and entertainment.”
I’m pleased that Barry’s family have accepted our offer for a State Memorial at the Opera House.
For generations, Barry Humphries entertained the world – his passing marks the end of an era. pic.twitter.com/ujrrz9qVsE
— Chris Minns (@ChrisMinnsMP) May 22, 2023
Born on February 17, 1934, Humphries was a celebrated figure in the entertainment industry, known for his comedic, satirical, and artistic abilities, as well as his remarkable character acting. His most beloved personas were Dame Edna Everage, a Melbourne housewife who rose to superstardom, and Sir Les Patterson, Australia’s vulgar cultural attaché to the Court of St. James’s.
Moreover, Humphries was a successful film producer, scriptwriter, and star of London’s West End musical theater scene. He was also a renowned landscape painter and an award-winning author. In fact, his biographer, Anne Pender, declared him the most significant comedian since Charlie Chaplin in 2010.
Humphries’ characters, especially Dame Edna Everage, received worldwide recognition, and he made appearances in several movies, stage productions, and TV shows.
For his contributions to the entertainment industry, Humphries received numerous awards and honors, including a Special Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, a Theatre World Award, and an Outer Critics’ Circle Award in 2000. In 2002, the Australian National Portrait Gallery dedicated its first large-scale biographical exhibit to him, and the following year, he lent his voice to Bruce the Shark in the animated film Finding Nemo.
Humphries also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Melbourne and wrote two autobiographies, More Please (1992) and My Life as Me (2002).