Internationally renowned comic character Dame Edna Everage's alter ego, Australian actor Barry Humphries, punched a photographer who pursued him outside a Sydney restaurant Wednesday, his publicist said.

The 72-year-old — who has found enduring fame in the United States, Britain and Australia on stage and screen through the purple-haired housewife character he has been playing since the 1950s — struck celebrity freelance photographer Malcolm Ladd, 54, publicist Suzie Howie said.

Humphries became upset when Ladd followed him from Dee Bee's Cafe in Sydney's exclusive Double Bay where the actor had lunch with musical director Andrew Ross, Howie said.

"I can confirm to you that Barry did hit him," Howie said. "He was obviously very upset."

"But at least he didn't throw a phone," added Howe, referring to Australia-based Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe who was given a conditional discharge by a New York court last year after pleading guilty to throwing a phone at a hotel receptionist.

New South Wales state police had not received a complaint about the punch, a police spokeswoman said on the unusual condition of anonymity.

Ladd's photographs of Humphries at lunch appeared in early Thursday editions of News Corp. newspapers in Australia.

Ladd has declined to comment to media outside News Corp.

But he told News Corp. Humphries punched his face as Ladd attempted to take a close shot outside the restaurant.

"It knocked my glasses off. It was a good punch — it still hurts," Ladd was quoted as saying.

The photographer said he was in shock and was weighing up whether to complain to police.

"It's the first time I've been attacked and I've photographed just about everyone before," he was quoted as saying.