Barry Humphries state memorial LIVE updates: Who’s Who of political and celebrity worlds attend service at the Sydney Opera House – with a special message from King Charles
Iconic comedian Barry Humphries will be remembered at a state memorial service at the Sydney Opera House, with a Who’s Who of politics and celebrity to attend.
A tribute from King Charles will be read at the service to Humphries – the genius behind Dame Edna Everage – who died on April 22, aged 89.
Humphries suffered a fall in February and then suffered complications from follow-up hip surgery.
ABC's confusing video tribute clip kicks off memorial service: 'Do better ABC'
The ABC has sparked controversy by including footage of Barry Crocker as Barry McKenzie in their video montage of clips of Barry Humphries.
The national broadcaster introduced their coverage of Friday’s state memorial to the genius behind Dame Edna Average with a video tribute.
However, it appeared to have included Barry McKenzie footage by mistake.
Humphries devised the character of McKenzie, the ultimate Ocker Aussie, but it was played by Barry Crocker. Humphries played McKenzie’s aunt.
One angry viewer took to Twitter to complain: ‘Do better ABC.
‘Somebody please tell the ABC that Barry Crocker played Bazza McKenzie, not Barry Humphries.
‘They’re still running Bazza as one of his characters in a short tribute they’re showing to announce Humphries’ celebrations.’
Opera House sails to be lit in Humphries honour
A tribute to Barry Humphries featuring n illustration of Dame Edna’s elaborate spectacles will light up the sails of Sydney Opera House from 8.30pm tonight, Richard Wilkins has revealed as the memorial service draws to a close with a classic clip of Dame Edna Everage singing accompanied by a full choir and orchestra. Wilkins thanks the crowds and adds: ‘We love you Barry.’
Comedy legend's sons share treasured memories of their father
Humphries’ youngest son Rupert shared treasured memories that he had with his father.
‘My childhood was spent either wishing I was with my dad or following him around on tour. I would hang out in theatres, concert halls and TV studios, getting to spend time with him in that precious window between his afternoon nap and the show starting,’ he said.
‘Before each show started I would sit in his dressing room as he applied make-up, wigs and fake teeth and then watching him either step into a sequined frock or a totally disturbing fat suit that he wore for Les, with its huge appendage attached.
‘Most nights my brother and I would sit on the back row of an auditorium, praying, always praying that this wasn’t going to be the show where he went too far and said something completely unforgivable. But he never did.’
He said that his dad ‘was not really made for this world’ as he ‘didn’t do things that normal people do’.
‘He would have no problem going to the airport in a dressing gown and Speedos if that gave him another few minutes in front of his easel,’ he said.
‘He wasn’t going to teach me cricket, or how to do my tax returns, but I was so lucky to have him as a father. He taught me a love of travelling, books and learning, the power of being outrageous, and how to be complete yourself, and the importance of creativity above all else.’
Humphries eldest son Oscar said that he had spent his final years of life ‘still vibrant’ and had enjoyed the ‘joy and laughter’ of audiences and his family until the end.
‘Those of us who are the children of artists share that parent with their fans and their admirers, and, indeed, to see how much he meant to people has been a buffer against grief, and something we hugely appreciate and enjoy,’ he said.
‘He will live on through his work, and bring more laughter to us all.’
The official memorial booklet for Barry Humphries
Rupert Murdoch joins the star-studded tributes
Media magnate Rupert Murdoch sent his own video message to the Opera House for the memorial service, insisting the funnyman’s legacy will never die.
‘Barry, you’re still here,’ he said. ‘Your wit still amuses, your personal courage still resonates. Your creativity still inspires, your intellect is still a beacon.
‘You’re a role model, sometimes in ways you never intended. Sir Les Patterson was a living lesson for every Australian abroad and how not to behave.’
He added:’I’m struck by your self awareness and understanding the nature of laughter.
‘As you say, when people laugh at me, they’re not laughing in the way they normally wouldn’t with a comedian.
‘They are laughing with relief because the truth has been spoken.
‘And political correctness has not strangled this particular case. Barry, you will never be strangled. You will never be silenced.
‘Your voice still echoes, your wisdom still enlightens and your friendship still resides deeply in my heart.’
'I'm almost expecting him to resurrect himself and do an encore just for the show…' – Kathy Lette
The nation’s biggest names gathered in the theatre for the service, led by veteran entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins who opened with some kind words for the iconic performer, telling those in attendance that the service was a time to ‘reflect on and to celebrate Barry’s incredible life’.
‘To say that Barry was a man of the people is quite the understatement, he was a man for all people,’ he said.
‘He would engage in philosophical discourse about the arts, the state of the world, politics, food, music, and pretty much everything else with his artist friends, teasing them with words only found in the 20 volumes of the complete Oxford dictionary.
‘… what I witnessed many times was Barry’s endless fascination with everyday people, their hopes, their dreams, their fears and peculiarities. As much as Barry was a brilliant orator and performer, he was also a great listener, and it was this unrelenting curiosity that enabled him to forge the rich tapestry that he harnessed to entertain us and mirror us with.’
Former prime ministers John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull have made their way into the theatre along with other political figures such as George Brandis and John Graham.
Morning television star Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Puberty Blues author Kathy Lette, both close friends of the late entertainer, have also arrived.
Ms Lette said Humphries would be ‘so chuffed’ to see the thousands of people in attendance.
‘I’m almost expecting him to resurrect himself and come on and do an encore just for the show and then we could call him a ghost writer, literally,’ she said.
‘It’s not just a sad day, it’s also a celebration so there might be a little light swinging off the chandelier a bit later.’
Actor Christian Wilkins was spotted making his way into the memorial, supporting his father Richard Wilkins, who is hosting the celebration of life for Humphries.
Oscar Award nominated actress Jacki Weaver called Humphries, a longtime friend a ‘satirical comic genius’.
‘I met Barry when I was a teenager 60 years ago. I was a fan of his, for all of his life,’ she said.
Around 2000 people are expected to attend the event with mourners entering the Opera House greeted by a hot pink carpet and a towering display of pink, maroon, blue and white hydrangeas.
Humphries son Oscar told NCA Newswire it was amazing that so many people had turned out for the service, saying his father always ‘loved a full house’.
‘[It’s] more exciting and bigger than I anticipated,’ he said.
‘To see how much people loved Barry, dad, is like a buffer against grief — we’re all so excited.’
Humphries enjoyed a seven-decade career with his work as an actor, poet, musician and artist known around the world.
The Australian performer died in Sydney on April 22 at age 89. He was receiving treatment at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney for complications from hip surgery when he died.
He died peacefully surrounded by wife Lizzie, children Emily, Tessa, Rupert and Oscar and his 10 grandchildren.
Tessa Humphries, the daughter of Barry Humphries, reads a poem at the memorial
Rupert and Oscar Humphries, the sons of Barry Humphries during the State Memorial Service
'It's impossible to overstate his brilliance' – Rob Brydon
Welsh TV presenter Rob Brydon joined the video tributes and revealed how he found Humphries as a surprisingly ‘vulnerable, sensitive and giving human being that it became my great pleasure to know as a friend.
‘He was the best. He was the master. There was nobody better than Barry. His talent was just interstellar…it’s impossible to overstate his brilliance.’
TV chef Rick Stein recalled how Humphries was a ‘great walker’ who once slipped on some ice and fell over a cliff – but somehow survived.
He said the even just days before his death, ‘he wasn’t ready to go. He was still active, he was still thinking. He was a great, great man.’
'The funniest show I had ever seen' – David Walliams
Comedian David Walliams has relived the moment he first saw Barry Humphries on stage and the impact it had on him.
‘That’s what I want to do,’ he told the Opera House in a video message. ‘I want to wear a dress.’
Elton John sent his own video tribute, telling the audience to ‘celebrate with laughter because that’s what Barry would have wanted you to do.’
Jimmy Carr remembered being blown away by Humphries’ quick wit on stage as he worked with an audience.
‘I’d never seen anything like it,’ said Carr in his video message. ‘He was picking people out and teasing them and doing comedy in real time.
‘And I don’t think people really appreciate how difficult that is.
‘Barry Humphries had real magic and it never went away.’
Humphries wild drinking days remembered
Film director Bruce Beresford recalled the wilder younger days of Humphries when he was struggling to make an impact in London.
‘During this period, the 60s in the early 70s, Barry was having a struggle with sobriety. He started drinking very early in the morning and haunted the Soho pubs.
‘His career was affected. Theatre managements had an obsession about their casts appearing as contracted. Barry’s record was patchy at one theatre.
‘He knew he was first on stage after interval. He ran from a nearby pub and managed to reach the theatre just as the interval ended.
‘He dashed into the wings and then onto the stage.
‘The only problem was he was in the wrong theatre, in the wrong place.’
Beresford added: ‘In the early 1970s, his drinking become so overwhelming that [Alcoholics Anonymous], who had been on his trail for some time, came to the rescue.
‘They waved the magic wand and from 1972 he never touched alcohol again.
‘His career flourished, and he regularly attended AA meetings all over the world, doing all he could to help other addicts.’
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese sends a video message
Host Richard Wilkins thanked Mr Burke for relaying the King’s message: ‘Wonderful words – what a blast to have a message from the King. Very cool.’
He then introduces a video tribute from Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese who hailed ‘this genius – this comedic giant brought such joy to every part of Australia.’
He added: ‘If Dame Edna Everage presented the refine and consideration and the style of the upper house, Sir Les Patterson was without doubt the lower house — it’s probably safe to say there was never a house any lower than Sir Les Patterson.
“…No matter how unruly his creations became, it was Barry who had the final word and what a word it was, Barry had the ultimate power, a power he exercised with the glee that never knew any bounds.’
King's touching message for Barry Humphries memorial
Industry minister Tony Burke has read out a hilarious and touching message from King Charles to honour the memory of Barry Humphies at the state memorial service at Sydney Opera House.
‘It almost sounds like a line from the show to say I have a message from the Palace,’ said Mr Burke.
‘But I do in fact have a message from the Palace. And it’s great, my great honour to read this message on behalf of His Majesty the King.
‘His Majesty was a great admirer of Barry Humphries. And these words are more beautiful than any I could choose.’
King Charles’s message read: ‘I suspect that all those who appeared on stage or on TV with Barry’s Dame Edna Everage, or who found her appearing at the back of the Royal Box, will have shared that unique sensation with fear and fun combined.
‘Those who tried to stand on their dignity soon lost their footing. Those who wondered whether Australia’s housewife superstar might this time just go too far.
‘We’re always proved right. No one was safe.
‘Barry Humphries through his creations, poked and prodded us. Exposed pretensions, punctured pomposity surfaced insecurities, but most of all, made us laugh at ourselves.
‘This cultured and erudite man with his love of literature in the visual arts and passion for Weimar cabaret, could not have been more different from his various stage incarnations.
‘Like so many. I have been deeply saddened by his passing life really won’t be the same without him. May our Gladiola bloom in celebration of his memory’
'Woe betide anyone turning up late…'
Showbiz TV reporter Richard Wilkins is hosting the star-studded memorial service at Sydney Opera House which is now underway – and he warned anyone turning up late: ‘He’ll still find a way to get you…’
Cavalcade of stars to pay tribute to comedy icon
King Charles III is among those to pay tribute to comedian Barry Humphries in a state memorial service at the Sydney Opera House.
A message from the King will be read by NSW Governor Margaret Beazley at the service on Friday, followed by a video tribute from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Sir Elton John, Rupert Murdoch, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Walliams and Bruce Beresford, are also among those to offer their tributes.
The comedy legend, best known for his alter egos Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson, died in Sydney on April 22, at the age of 89.
Humphries’ extraordinary international career, spanning seven decades, will also be remembered by family, friends and fans.
His death, following complications from surgery, sparked an outpouring of tributes for the treasured national icon at home and abroad.
Humphries, who lived in London for decades, returned to Sydney in December last year, where he suffered a fall requiring a hip replacement.
He died in St Vincent’s Hospital as a result of complications following the operation.
Humphries delighted and outraged audiences for more than half a century with his cavalcade of grotesques, presented in a unique blend of old-style music hall and contemporary satire.
Among them were the gross Sir Les Patterson, Australia’s ‘cultural attache to the Court of St James’ and the melancholy and rambling Sandy Stone.
Dame Edna picked out ‘possums’ from her audience and made them squirm, her appearances ending with a blizzard of ‘gladdies’
She was a huge critical and popular success.
Humphries continued touring up until the last year of his life and was ‘an entertainer to his core’ who brought laughter to millions.
John Barry Humphries was born on February 17, 1934.
The two-hour memorial event is being co-hosted by the Australian and NSW governments and begins at 11am.
Oscar Humphries with his children
Oscar Humphries with his children
Guests dressed as Dame Edna Everage attend the State Memorial for Barry Humphries
John Howard, former Prime Minister of Australia and his wife Janette Howard
Malcolm Turnbull, former Prime Minister of Australia and his wife Lucy Hughes Turnbull
Author Kathy Lette
Barrister Geoffrey Robertson
TV presenter Kerri-Anne Kennerley
Christian Wilkins, son of memorial service host Richard Wilkins
'Inspiring': Fan's touching tribute to Edna wins seal of approval from comedy legend's wife
A lifelong Barry Humphries fan has gone all out to pay homage to the beloved Australian entertainer’s decades long career.
Robin Waerea travelled with fellow super fan Jurgen Hoffman to Sydney Opera House where the state memorial is being held for the iconic performer on Friday at 11am.
There was an outpouring of grief across Australia after Humphries died in Sydney on April 22 after complications for hip surgery
Both Mr Waerea and Mr Hoffman secured tickets to the major memorial as soon as they were available.
Ms Waerea chose to pay tribute to Humphries’ iconic character Dame Edna Everage.
The pair were taking photos on the Opera House steps before Friday’s state memorial, with Mr Waerea earning the approval of Humphries’ wife Elizabeth Spender.
‘Barry’s wife just ran up the steps to take a photo of Robin, so that was really nice,’ said Mr Hoffman.
‘She said Barry would have been really proud, or that he would have been thrilled, and asked us three times: ‘Do you have tickets?”
Mr Waerea said he’s been dressing up as Edna for the past 30 years, inspired by her ability to ‘make people smile’.
‘This is my way of showing respect to her today.’
Mr Hoffman and Mr Waerea attended the service with a photo of Dame Edna signed by the late Humphries himself.
Mr Hoffman said he loved Humphries for his ‘range of characters,’ as well as the comedy shows and stage productions he put on.
‘I’ve dress up as Sir Les Patterson a couple of times,’ he said.
Mr Waerea will be joining a long list of celebrities and dignitaries paying tribute to Humphries, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and NSW Premier Chris Minns.
Mr Minns described Humphries as ‘one of the nation’s greatest ever comedians’.
‘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,’ he said when announcing the service in May.
‘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.’
Performances from the renowned comedian will be featured in the televised service alongside the tributes. Humphries enjoyed a seven-decade career with his work as an actor, poet, musician and artist known around the world.
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