Barry Humphries – a kaleidoscope of a personality

Australian comedian and satirist Barry Humphries, best known for his gladioli-throwing character Dame Edna Everage, has died aged 89. Described as one of the greatest raconteurs of his age, his achievements as a writer, painter, actor and scholar were overshadowed by his shrill toned and sequined global superstar alter-ego, spreading her homespun philosophy, who was initially based on his mother.

 He was born 17 February 1934 6.30 am Melbourne, AU, and started inventing fictional characters from an early age, spending hours in his parent’s back garden dressing up in various costumes.

   Despite his talent and great success he did have his demons, being severely afflicted by long periods of alcoholism and depression. A reviewer commented: “It may be that the regular transformation into Edna or Les was partly an act of exorcism. He once confessed to experiencing on stage the strange sensation of “standing on one side watching Edna doing appalling things to the audience”. His other alternative identity was a lecherous, drunken, foul-mouthed Sir Les Paterson. He also created the character, Barry McKenzie, the boorish, sexist, arrogant Australian, who appeared in a comic strip he wrote for  Private Eye.

  He had an Aquarius stellium in his creative and hidden 12th house ranging from Venus, North Node, Saturn to Sun. A showbizzy, publicity attracting Mars Mercury in Pisces in his 1st opposed Neptune in his 7th house of relationships. And a turbo-charged and lucky Jupiter opposition Uranus was square an attention-demanding Pluto in his performing and entertaining 5th house. A mix of reclusive and over-the-top diva.  His Aries Moon was sparsely aspected being only sextile Venus.

  Coming to terms with the unconscious is always a necessity with a strong 12th house and it may well be his inner fragility was what spurred his need to create a false identity. Hiding behind a false persona was part of his way of coping.

  He also, which may be relevant, had his Mercury conjunct his Sun/Moon midpoint which Ebertin describes as: ‘one’s attitude and thoughts to the male and female principles.’ So he clearly was ambivalent about who he wanted to be.  His uncommitted Neptune in the 7th would account for multiple marriages.

  Intriguingly he had a marked 13th harmonic, as did Peter Sellers, which is associated with genius and breakthrough but is also ascribed by one astrologer with confusion about identity. Barry Humphries also had an even more noteworthy creative 7th harmonic and 5th – as well as the global influence 22H and leaving a legacy 17H.

7 thoughts on “Barry Humphries – a kaleidoscope of a personality

  1. I see he has the comedian’s Jupiter/Uranus aspect as well as an Aquarian stellium in his 12th house, plus a shapeshifting Pisces Rising which describes how his various comic personae embody an overturning of the order of things. In fact, that’s how I read his Aquarius Sun/Saturn hidden away in the 12th. Sun/Saturn is often a marker for a child who experienced his parents as unloving or emotionally cold. It’s sometimes the lonely child too and the lack of love in the early years can mean that in adulthood, no quantity of anything, including love is ever enough. Sun/Saturn can be a cup that can never be filled, always half-empty. In the 12th too, there’s a risk of addiction which was very much part of BH’s psychology since he was both a sex and alcohol addict. These wounds both scarred him as well as fuelled his comic genius.

    He was a habitual prankster in his younger years, which involved quite intricate set-ups. Shocking the public out of their complacency of course is part and parcel of the Aquarian script. In true Aquarian fashion, Humphries once said: “I’ve had a closer relationship with an audience than I’ve had with a person.”

    From the recent article written in ‘Elsewhere’, Graham Reid writes: “Humphries was acclaimed by the art critic Robert Hughes in The Art of Australia (1966) as “the only Australian who ever understood the Dada principle of provocation”. Aquarius sees the absurdity of the human world order and is compelled to upend and expose its pretensions. BH was born under the Uranus/Pluto square of the 1930s which also happens to be the heyday of Surrealist movement.

    A great entertainer.

  2. “Hiding behind a false persona was part of his way of coping.”

    Barry Humphries was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder apparently, according to an interview he gave. ‘Masking’ to fit in with neuro-typical people can be part of this. Perhaps he took his ‘masks’ one step further, and created Dame Edna and Sir Les?

    I saw him in the Weimar Cabaret show he did at the Barbican a few years ago. Astonishing energy and creativity.
    And I notice that tr Jupiter is conjunct his natal Uranus in Aries now. Another Jupiter/Uranus exit stage left. We were talking about Jupiter transits and death when Paul O’Grady died so suddenly. Another man with a larger than life female stage persona – Lily Savage – too.

  3. I find it interesting that his two main characters were titled – DAME Edna and SIR Les Patterson. I think it might relate to his Sun-Saturn conjunction which always wants to be respected by the powers that be.

    noting David’s point about transiting Saturn. Humphries’ planets in the 12th, allied to a Pisces ascendant, suggest to me that he didn’t know how to define himself. But when transiting Saturn arrived that’s what it demanded and must have been very difficult for him.

    Like Sellers he was probably more comfortable, playing a role that didn’t reveal his inner self to anyone because he didn’t know whether it would please them which is what Pisces/neptune always wants to do.

  4. I saw one of his one man shows – his ability to amuse and entertain for 2-3 hours was remarkable. The more scathing and cruel he was of his audience’s pretensions and foibles the more they loved him. He died with tr Saturn conjunct his ascendant. I had the same transit a few weeks ago and felt very ill at ease. I think that the role of the ascendant in the astrological mix is sometimes overlooked.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: