Barry Humphries, who played Dame Edna Everage, has died at the age of 89.

The veteran Australian comedian had been readmitted to hospital after suffering complications following hip surgery last month.

The entertainer played the lilac-haired drag persona on stage and TV for more than 60 years.

The self-described giga-star was known for her extravagant spectacles, rapier wit, rich source of double entendres, fondness for gladioli flowers and the famous greeting “Hello possums!”.

Humphries also played Sir Les Patterson, an unkempt, lecherous, uncouth character who held multiple fictional diplomatic positions, including cultural attaché to the Far East and minister for the yartz (arts).

A statement from Humphries’ family said: “He was completely himself until the very end, never losing his brilliant mind, his unique wit and generosity of spirit.

“With over 70 years on the stage, he was an entertainer to his core, touring up until the last year of his life and planning more shows that will sadly never be.

“His audiences were precious to him, and he never took them for granted.

“Although he may be best remembered for his work in theatre, he was a painter, author, poet, and a collector and lover of art in all its forms.

“He was also a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, and a friend and confidant to many.

“His passing leaves a void in so many lives.

“The characters he created, which brought laughter to millions, will live on.”

Paying tribute, Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese said: “For 89 years, Barry Humphries entertained us through a galaxy of personas, from Dame Edna to Sandy Stone.

“But the brightest star in that galaxy was always Barry.

“A great wit, satirist, writer and an absolute one-of-kind, he was both gifted and a gift. May he rest in peace.”

Humphries became a staple of the British comedy circuit after moving from Australia to London in 1959 and appearing in West End shows such as Maggie May and Oliver.

He was among the leading members of the British comedy scene, alongside Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Spike Milligan.

Journalist and broadcaster Andrew Neil recalled the “funny, hugely literate, fiercely smart” Humphries, tweeting: “So sad to learn Barry Humphries has passed away.

“When I visited him in his Sydney Hospital two weeks ago he was ailing from several health problems. But his spirits and wit were as acute as ever.

“We laughed away as the stories poured out.”

He added: “I count myself lucky and privileged I got to see him one more time. A comic genius the likes of which we will never see again.”

Fellow comedian Matt Lucas, who posted a picture of the pair together on Twitter, described the star as “quite simply the greatest”.