CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Tony Award-winning comedian Barry Humphries, renowned for his garish stage persona Dame Edna Everage, a condescending and imperfectly veiled snob whose evolving character has delighted audiences over seven decades, is in a Sydney hospital with complications following hip surgery.
St. Vincent’s Hospital described the 89-year-old’s condition on Friday as stable and rejected media reports that he had become unresponsive.
Humphries was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday following hip replacement surgery last month. The surgery was conducted after a fall in February.
His publicist, Wendy Day, said Humphries’ condition was unchanged since Thursday and he was resting.
Seven Network entertainment reporter Peter Ford said three of Humphries’ four children have traveled to their father’s hospital bedside, two from London.
“His children were told in the beginning of the week it would be advisable if they wanted to come see him to do so … and they are all there right now along with his wife, Lizzie,” Ford told Perth Radio 6PR.
Humphries has lived in London for decades and returned to Australia in December to spend Christmas in his homeland during the Southern Hemisphere summer.
He told The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper last month that his physiotherapy had been “agony” following his fall and hip replacement.
“It was the most ridiculous thing, like all domestic incidents are. I was reaching for a book, my foot got caught on a rug or something, and down I went,” Humphries said of his fall.
Humphries has remained an active entertainer, touring Britain last year with his one-man show “The Man Behind the Mask.”
The character of Dame Edna began as a dowdy Mrs. Norm Everage who first took to the stage in Humphries’ hometown of Melbourne in the mid-1950s. She reflected a postwar suburban inertia and cultural blandness that Humphries found stifling.
Edna is one of Humpries’ several enduring characters. The next most famous is Sir Les Patterson, an ever-drunk, disheveled and lecherous Australian cultural attache.
Patterson reflected a perception of Australia as a Western cultural wasteland that drove Humphries along with many leading Australian intellectuals to London.
Humphries, a law school dropout, found major success as an actor, writer and entertainer in Britain in the 1970s, but the United States was an ambition that he found stubbornly elusive.
A high point in the United States was a Tony Award in 2000 for his Broadway show “Dame Edna: The Royal Tour.”