Tony Hendra

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Tony Hendra
Tony Hendra, September 17, 2014.jpg
Tony Hendra, photo taken in downtown NYC, September 17, 2014
Born 1941
Hertfordshire, England, UK
Occupation Writer, actor
Nationality British
Genre Fiction, non-fiction, satire, social commentary
Spouse Judith H. Christmas (1964-1984; divorced; 2 children)
Carla Hendra (1986-present; 3 children)

Tony Hendra (born 1941) is an English satirist and writer who has worked mostly in the United States. Educated at St Albans School (where he was a classmate of Stephen Hawking) and at Cambridge University, he was a member of the Cambridge University Footlights revue in 1962, alongside John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Tim Brooke-Taylor.

Hendra is probably best known for being the writer for the first six shows of the British television series Spitting Image, and for playing Ian Faith, the band's manager, in the film This Is Spinal Tap.

Early career[edit]

In 1964 Hendra moved to America, where he worked as a comedian. He sometimes teamed with comic actor Nick Ullett as "Hendra and Ullett," appearing on the Merv Griffin Show multiple times and six times on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Hendra wrote for National Lampoon magazine from its beginning in 1970, and in 1971 he became the first editor hired by founders Doug Kenney and Henry Beard.

In 1972, Hendra co-created National Lampoon's first album Radio Dinner with Michael O'Donoghue, on which Hendra performed a parody of John Lennon entitled Magical Misery Tour.

In 1973 Hendra produced, directed and co-wrote (with Sean Kelly), the Lampoon's off-Broadway revue Lemmings in which Hendra cast John Belushi, Chevy Chase and Christopher Guest in their first starring roles. Hendra was an editor of the Lampoon until 1974, and was co-editor-in-chief with Sean Kelly from 1975 to 1978.

Freelance editor[edit]

After leaving the Lampoon in 1978, Hendra began working as a freelance editor, writer and actor. During the New York newspaper strike of 1978, he helped create the parody Not the New York Times featuring Christopher Cerf, George Plimpton, and Rusty Unger, and published by Larry Durocher and Josh Feigenbaum.

In 1982 he was editor-in-chief of Off the Wall Street Journal and, in 1983, of Off the Wall Street Journal II. Other parodies Hendra created and edited included The Irrational Inquirer, Playboy: the Parody and Not the Bible (1983).

Hendra was featured on the cover of Newsweek (25 April 1983) with Sean Kelly and Alfred Gingold.

Hendra was editor-in-chief of Spy Magazine from 1993 to 1994.

Television and films[edit]

In 1984, Hendra co-created, co-wrote, and co-produced the British television satirical show Spitting Image for which he, Jon Blair, and John Lloyd were nominated for a British Academy Award in 1985. He was ousted from the production after the first six shows, being replaced by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor.

His most notable acting role was Ian Faith, the band's manager in This Is Spinal Tap. He also appeared in several other films and television programs, including Miami Vice, The Cosby Mysteries, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

In 1997, Hendra and director Ron Shelton wrote The Great White Hype, a satire of racism in boxing, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Damon Wayans, Jamie Foxx, Jeff Goldblum, and Peter Berg.

He co-conceived and wrote the English dubs of three of the films created by Belgian animator Picha, including The Missing Link (1980), The Big Bang (1987), and Snow White: The Sequel (2007).


Family life and controversy[edit]

Hendra married Judith Christmas in 1964. The couple had two daughters, the younger of whom is Jessica Hendra. Tony and Judith Hendra underwent an acrimonious divorce in 1985. Hendra subsequently remarried; he and his second wife, Carla Hendra, live in New York and have three children together.

In 2004, at the time that Father Joe was achieving best-seller status, Jessica Hendra contacted the New York Times, requesting that the newspaper publish an op-ed piece she had written in which she alleged that her father had sexually abused her as a young child. The newspaper declined to publish the op-ed piece, but they did assign a reporter to investigate her charges. On 1 July 2004, the Times published an article on the front page of the Arts section about Jessica Hendra's allegations. The story, by reporter N.R. Kleinfield, included details about the alleged acts of molestation, along with Tony Hendra's denial: "I can only just categorically deny this. It's not a new allegation. It's simply not true, I'm afraid."[1] However, in the investigation, the reporter interviewed two therapists Jessica Hendra had worked with, three friends, her mother and her husband. All confirmed Jessica's version of events, one saying that Jessica had revealed the rape and abuse to them when she was 12 years old.[2]

After the Times was criticised for publishing the story in the absence of proof,[3] the paper's ombudsman, Daniel Okrent, wrote an article examining the newspaper's decision. Okrent quoted an email exchange with Kleinfield in which the latter wrote that, based on his reporting, he had concluded that Jessica Hendra had indeed been molested. At the same time, Okrent expressed concern about the possibility that Jessica Hendra's charges were false, citing in particular the damage that could be caused to Hendra's young children who were 11, 12 and 14 at the time. "As an editor," Okrent concluded, "the verities of the profession might have led me to publish this article. But as a reader, I wish The Times hadn't."[4]

Jessica Hendra subsequently published a memoir, How to Cook Your Daughter, that repeated the abuse allegations. The book was published by Judith Regan of ReganBooks.


  1. ^ Daughter Says Father's Confessional Book Didn't Confess His Molestation of Her, New York Times article, July 1, 2004
  2. ^ Coscarelli, Joe (May 10, 2011). "Tony Hendra, Satirist Behind New York Times Spoof Site, Molested His Daughter, New York Times Reported". Village Voice Blogs. Archived from the original on April 26, 2014. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  3. ^ Not Fit to Print, column in the Washington Post by Richard Cohen, July 20, 2004
  4. ^ When the Right to Know Confronts the Need to Know, the New York Times ombudsman comments on the publication of Jessica Hendra's allegations

External links[edit]