Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Barry Humphries (Aka Dame Edna) on Conrad Black, Tom Thomson, Other Canuck Ties

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Barry Humphries (Aka Dame Edna) on Conrad Black, Tom Thomson, Other Canuck Ties

Article excerpt

Barry Humphries (aka Dame Edna) on Canuck ties

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TORONTO - From former media baron Conrad Black to late painter Tom Thomson and violinist Mayumi Seiler, Dame Edna has a lot of love for Canada -- and some surprising ties to it.

Comedy star Barry Humphries, 81, who brings his lilac-haired, bespectacled alter ego to Toronto on Thursday for a run at the Princess of Wales Theatre, says he's made several high-profile friends in the city over the five decades he's performed in it.

"Lord Black is an old friend of mine," the renowned Australian performer said in a recent telephone interview, noting he plans to see him and his wife Barbara Amiel during his stay in the city.

"I'm dining with them on my night off."

Humphries said Seiler is among the other friends he hopes to visit with in the city as "Dame Edna's Glorious Goodbye -- The Farewell Tour" runs through April 19.

As for Thomson, Humphries said he once owned a painting by the famed Ontario-born artist -- only he didn't realize it at the time.

As the ever-humorous Humphries tells it, the saga began some 30 years ago in Australia when he bought a rolled up painting measuring about three metres long from an antiques dealer.

The work depicted pine trees and lakes and mountain peaks and "was signed in red, 'Tom.'"

"I thought it was by some commercial artist," said Humphries, who also paints.

"I forgot about it until I was in a flat in Sydney which had a long, dark hallway. I got a wooden frame and I got my landscape, unrolled it and I stapled it with a staple gun to the wooden frame.

"I folded the canvas over so you wouldn't read that red word 'Tom,' which struck me as being a mark of an amateur."

Humphries said when he sold the flat, he left the painting in it and didn't think about it again until a visit to Toronto, when he saw banners outside the Art Gallery of Ontario advertising the work of Thomson. …

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