Dame Edna Everage, the drag persona of Australian actor Barry Humphries, will retire at the conclusion of Edna’s stage show “Eat Pray Laugh,” Humphries told Australian newspapers. Edna, who is one of the world’s best-known drag characters, won a Tony in 2000 for her live Broadway show.
“Edna will crop up on television, I guess, but not in a live show,” Humphries, who often poses as Dame Edna’s stage manager, told the Telegraph. He told the paper that at age 78, he wanted to quit while he was ahead.
“The fact of the matter is that I'm beginning to feel a bit senior. I love it and it's healthy for me,” he said. “It's the best aerobics you could do, leaping around on stage, but it's grueling when there are other things to do.”
Dame Edna, who always sports her signature lilac-colored hair and cat-eye glasses, began in the 1960s as a parody of a typical Australian housewife. When she was elevated to damehood in the 1970s, the character evolved to become a critique of celebrity and politics — especially under Margaret Thatcher’s leadership. She became well-known in the United States in the 1990s, thanks to television appearances and touring productions of her show, winning a Tony for “The Royal Tour.”
Humphries, separate from his drag persona, has provided the voice for Bruce the shark in “Finding Nemo.” He will also appear as the Great Goblin in the upcoming film “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
For a sample of Dame Edna’s humor, check out this 2010 appearance on “The View.” She talks about her family, revealing that she has adopted a child from Africa — “From the same village where Madonna does her shopping.”