What Joanne Woodward did for the 1957 biopic, "The Three Faces of Eve," and Sally Field did for Sybil in the eponymous 1976 TV bio, Dame Edna Everage has been doing for Australian actor, Barry Humphries, since 1956. Unlike Eve's three personalities and Sybil's 16, Dame Edna Everage, the fearless, flamboyant Australian housewife, has only one other personality: her creator, Barry Humphries.

In a recent telephone tete a tete it became clear early on that Humphries was not going to talk to me. However, Dame Edna was extremely charming and loquacious and very forthcoming about the intimate details of her personal life.
When I inquired about 'his' career as a landscape painter, Dame Edna replied: "You must be thinking of that fellow, Barry Humphries. He's the one who allows me to do what I do." Mr. Humphries performed songs and sketches at university reviews and joined the newly-formed Melbourne Theater Company where he created Dame Edna in 1956.

While Mr. Humphries is married to Lizzie Spender, daughter of poet Sir Stephen Spender, and has two sons and two daughters, Dame Edna married an older man, and her fourth child, Lois, was abducted by a Koala. Her son, Kenneth, designs all her costumes. From having seen Dame Edna's show in recent years, one is led to believe Kenny is a little light on his feet. Dame Edna always gets a knowing laugh when she fixates on a certain spot in the audience and sings: "I never thought I'd see so many - Friends of Kenny."

When I spoke to Dame Edna by phone "from my not-too-luxurious suite in L.A" she said she did 78 consecutive shows in Australia titled: "Back To My Roots." She added animatedly, "I discovered four years ago that I had a new audience in the United States." She did a two-week show in San Francisco which stretched into four months, and she also took her show to Broadway. But Dame Edna said, "You can't win if you're a woman," and she shared her beauty secret: "I begin each day by looking in the mirror, and I say 'you're gorgeous' three times. I've never had plastic surgery."
She also shared her tip for the perfect honeymoon: "Separate rooms. I think it's (honeymoon) highly overrated." She added, "I sing, I dance, I try to impart joy." And with her unflinching modesty, Dame Edna said: "I don't display my awards. There's not a shelf long enough."
She was also open about her religious views: "I'm thinking of starting my own religion. My accountant says there are great advantages. Just ask any Scientologist."

Dame Edna Everage is a consummate entertainer who brings non-stop joy and laughter to her audiences, and she comes to the Majestic Theater in Dallas, November 11-16, 2003.


Key Subjects: 
Dame Edna, Barry Humphries
Rita Faye Smith
For more about Dame Edna, please see Ellis Nassour's 1999 profile of Dame Edna in the Periodica Features section.
October 2003
Dame Edna on Tour in the States