Tony Hendra

Tony Hendra (born 10 July 1941) is an English satirist, actor 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 St John's College, Cambridge, 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 head writer and co-producer in 1984 of the first six shows of the long-running British satirical television series Spitting Image, and for starring in the film This Is Spinal Tap as the band's manager Ian Faith.

Tony Hendra
Tony Hendra, photo taken in downtown New York City on 17 September 2014
Tony Hendra, photo taken in downtown New York City on 17 September 2014
Born10 July 1941 (age 77)
Hertfordshire, England, UK
OccupationSatirist, writer, actor
GenreFiction, non-fiction, satire, social commentary
SpouseJudith H. Christmas (1964–1984; divorced; 2 children)
Carla Hendra (1986–present; 3 children)

Early life and career

Hendra was born in Hertfordshire. His surname is Cornish, and he also has Irish ancestry.[1]

In 1964, Hendra moved to America, with actor and comedian Nick Ullett. For the next five years they worked successfully as a comedy team appearing at the Cafe a Go Go in New York with Lenny Bruce, at the hungry i in San Francisco with Nina Simone and at the Shadows in Washington DC with various headliners including Woody Allen. They were regular guests on the Merv Griffin Show and appeared six times on The Ed Sullivan Show. in 1969 Hendra broke up the comedy team and in 1970 began writing for National Lampoon magazine from its inception. 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 titled 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, Rhonda Coullet, Christopher Guest and Alice Playten in their first starring roles. Hendra continued as an editor of the Lampoon until 1975 when he became co-editor-in-chief with Kelly until 1978.

Freelance editor

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 edited and co-created the parody Not the New York Times with Rusty Unger, Christopher Cerf, and George Plimpton, and published by Larry Durocher and Josh Feigenbaum.

In 1979 he co-edited (with Cerf and actor Peter Elbling) "The 80s - A Look Back" In 1980 he packaged and edited The Sayings of Ayatollah Khomeini aka The Little Green Book of Ayatollah Khomeini, a collection of the Ayatollah's actual teachings with an introduction by Clive Irving which was regularly featured on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.

In 1982 he was editor-in-chief of Off the Wall Street Journal and Off the Wall Street Journal II which between them sold almost a million copies and featured such contributors as Kurt Andersen. Other parodies Hendra created and edited included The Irrational Inquirer, Playboy: the Parody and Not the Bible (1983). He was featured on the cover of Newsweek (25 April 1983) with Sean Kelly and Alfred Gingold. Hendra was a writer for and became editor-in-chief of Spy Magazine from 1993–94.

In the mid-1980s, he decided to devote himself exclusively to writing and in 1987 published "Going Too Far" a history of 'sick' 'black' 'anti-establishment' American satire (aka "Boomer Humor") from the 1950s to the 1980s, which featured interviews of Boomer Humor's chief practitioners.

Television and films

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. He played Ian Faith in This Is Spinal Tap.

He 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

Hendra has been married twice. His first marriage, to Judith Christmas in 1964, produced two daughters and ended in an acrimonious divorce in 1985. He and his second wife, Carla, live in New York City with their three children.[2]

In 2004, at the time that his memoir Father Joe was achieving best-seller status, Jessica Hendra, the younger of Hendra's two daughters from his first marriage, submitted an op-ed piece to The New York Times in which she asserted that her father failed to include in his narrative of "deliverance through faith and atonement for his failings" that he had sexually abused her as a young child. The newspaper declined to publish the piece, but did assign a reporter, N. R. Kleinfield, to investigate her charges.

On 1 July 2004, The New York Times published Kleinfield's story, here, including details of the alleged acts of molestation and interviews with two of Jessica's therapists, three friends, her mother, and her husband. All said that Jessica told them at different junctures of being molested—in her mother's case, when she was 12. A former boyfriend told Kleinfield, however, that Jessica never spoke of it during their years together, and that she was "very unstable emotionally"—adding, "I can't believe it happened."[3]

Hendra responded, "I can only just categorically deny this. It's not a new allegation. It's simply not true, I'm afraid."[2] In the wake of criticism of the paper's decision to publish the story in the absence of tangible proof,[4] New York Times ombudsman Daniel Okrent wrote a detailed examination of the procedures followed by the editorial staff prior to publication.

While acknowledging that Kleinfield was convinced, based on information gathered during his reporting, that Jessica Hendra had indeed been molested, Okrent expressed concern over possible consequences should the charges prove to be false. Okrent posited:

"Even if the preponderant evidence indicates it's true ... doesn't the small chance that it's false outweigh the value of giving readers access to the private miseries of the Hendra family? Either way, Tony Hendra will bear the scars of this article forever. People who did not write a book claiming spiritual salvation will suffer as well: his three young children from his second marriage, for instance. In the face of this risk, what do readers of The Times (or of Father Joe) gain by believing Hendra guilty of abuse? There's a difference between the right to know and the need to know, and in this case, the need escapes me ... I don't mean in any way to diminish the gravity of Jessica Hendra's charges ... "I can't imagine an accusation more serious, a transgression more detestable. If her story is true, Tony Hendra deserves punishment far greater than humiliation in the pages of The Times. As an editor, the verities of the profession might have led me to publish this article. But as a reader, I wish The Times hadn't."[5]

In 2005, Jessica Hendra wrote a memoir with USA Today journalist Blake Morrison, How to Cook Your Daughter, in which she repeated her accusations.[6]



  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Daughter Says Father's Confessional Book Didn't Confess His Molestation of Her",, 1 July 2004.
  3. ^ Coscarelli, Joe (10 May 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 26 April 2014. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  4. ^ Not Fit to Print, column in The Washington Post by Richard Cohen, 20 July 2004.
  5. ^ When the Right to Know Confronts the Need to Know – New York Times ombudsman comments on the publication of Jessica Hendra's allegations,; accessed 7 December 2015.
  6. ^ Hendra, J. and Morrison, B. How to Cook Your Daughter: A Memoir. Harper (2005); ISBN 0060820993.

External links

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

For the 2018 film adaptation, see A Futile and Stupid Gesture (film).A Futile and Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever is an American book that was published in 2006. It is a history of National Lampoon magazine and one of its three founders, Doug Kenney, during the 1970s. The book was based on numerous interviews with people who contributed to the magazine, and people who performed in The National Lampoon Radio Hour, and the stage show Lemmings.

As the book recounts, at that time the National Lampoon's performers included John Belushi, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Gilda Radner, all of whom subsequently went on to appear on Saturday Night Live and have careers in other media, including film. Writers and artists included John Hughes, Sean Kelly, Chris Miller, P. J. O'Rourke, Tony Hendra, and Bruce McCall. The book also includes stories about the making of the movies Animal House and Caddyshack. The main title of the book is a quote from Animal House, part of a line spoken by the character Otter.


"Deteriorata" is a comedy record released as a single in 1972. It is a parody of Les Crane's 1971 spoken word recording of "Desiderata", the early 20th century poem by Max Ehrmann. ("Desiderata" is Latin for "desired things"; "deteriorata" is a portmanteau of the verb "deteriorate" and "desiderata".)

The parody was written by Tony Hendra for National Lampoon, and was recorded for the album Radio Dinner. Narrator Norman Rose read the "poem" and Melissa Manchester sang the song. Christopher Guest wrote the music.

"Deteriorata" appeared on the lower reaches of the Billboard magazine charts for a few weeks in late 1972. In addition, a printed version of the parody became one of National Lampoon's best-selling posters. The parody gained some significance and popularity as a frequent presentation on the Dr. Demento radio show.

Les Crane himself later admitted that he preferred the parody version over his Grammy-winning recording of the original poem.

Father Joe

Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul (2004) is a memoir written by Tony Hendra, an English humorist and satirist. It was on the New York Times Best Seller list for many weeks.

Going Too Far

Going Too Far: the Rise and Demise of Sick, Gross, Black, Sophomoric, Weirdo, Pinko, Anarchist, Underground, Anti-establishment Humor is a 1987 American non-fiction book by British-born humorist Tony Hendra about black humor, what Hendra calls "boomer humor", a twisted style of humor that was popular with the baby boomer generation. Going Too Far was published by Dolphin Doubleday in New York.

In the book, Hendra talks about the history of anti-establishment humor, starting with pioneers such as Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce and also later comics such as John Belushi and Eddie Murphy. Hendra also discusses improvisational theater groups, including The Second City, and popular anti-establishment magazines such as National Lampoon magazine and Mad Magazine.

The book is also partly a memoir about Hendra's time at National Lampoon magazine. The second half of the book (Part Two–Fusion) is primarily about the magazine and its related projects.

Greatest Hits of the National Lampoon

Greatest Hits of the National Lampoon is an American comedy album of songs and spoken word that was first released as a vinyl record in 1978. It was a spin-off of National Lampoon magazine and was a "best-of" compilation that included tracks from Radio Dinner, Lemmings, The Missing White House Tapes, Gold Turkey, Goodbye Pop, and That's Not Funny, That's Sick.

The composers and performers included John Belushi, Bill Murray, Sean Kelly, Tony Hendra, Henry Beard, Christopher Cerf, Paul Jacobs, Michael O'Donoghue, Gilda Radner, and Christopher Guest.

Subsequently the album was released as a CD, and the songs are available as MP3s.

Last Words (book)

Last Words is the autobiography of American stand-up comedian George Carlin. It was published on November 10, 2009. Last Words tells the story of his life from his conception, literally, to his final years; he died on June 22, 2008 at the age of 71. He also wrote a special parting gift to the world. The book contains photos taken throughout Carlin's life.

In 1993, George Carlin asked his friend and bestselling author Tony Hendra to help him write his autobiography, although Carlin called it a "sortabiography". The two of them had scores of conversations, many were recorded, for almost fifteen years. During the conversations, they discussed Carlin's life, times, and evolution as a major comedian artist. After Carlin died, Hendra set out to assemble the book just as Carlin would have wanted.This book was also released twice in Audiobook format. The first recording at unabridged length narrated by Johnny Heller and the second with George's brother Patrick reading an abridgment.

Lemmings (National Lampoon)

National Lampoon: Lemmings, a spinoff of the humor magazine National Lampoon, was a 1973 stage show that helped launch the performing careers of John Belushi, Christopher Guest, and Chevy Chase. The show was co-written and co-directed by a number of people including Sean Kelly. The show opened at The Village Gate on January 25, 1973, and ran for 350 performances.

The songs from the show were subsequently issued as a record album. A video of one of the original performances, National Lampoon: Lemmings: Dead in Concert 1973, was eventually made available several decades later.

Lorne Michaels has purchased rights to the show and plans a Broadway production with a new cast. The production will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival and be a tribute to the late John Belushi. Christopher Guest will be the director. HBO will broadcast a video production after the Broadway run.

National Lampoon (magazine)

National Lampoon was an American humor magazine which ran from 1970 to 1998. The magazine started out as a spinoff from the Harvard Lampoon. National Lampoon magazine reached its height of popularity and critical acclaim during the 1970s, when it had a far-reaching effect on American humor and comedy. The magazine spawned films, radio, live theatre, various sound recordings, and print products including books. Many members of the creative staff from the magazine subsequently went on to contribute creatively to successful media of all types.

During the magazine's most successful years, parody of every kind was a mainstay; surrealist content was also central to its appeal. Almost all the issues included long text pieces, shorter written pieces, a section of actual news items (dubbed "True Facts"), cartoons and comic strips. Most issues also included "Foto Funnies" or fumetti, which often featured nudity. The result was an unusual mix of intelligent, cutting-edge wit, combined with some crass, bawdy jesting.

In both cases, National Lampoon humor often pushed far beyond the boundaries of what was generally considered appropriate and acceptable. It was especially anarchic, satirically attacking what was considered holy and sacred. As co-founder Henry Beard described the experience years later: "There was this big door that said, 'Thou shalt not.' We touched it, and it fell off its hinges."

The magazine declined during the late 1980's under new management and editorial staff, and it never recovered. It was kept alive minimally, but ceased publication altogether in 1998.

National Lampoon The 199th Birthday Book

National Lampoon The 199th Birthday Book: A Tribute to the United States of America, 1776–1975 was an American humor book that was issued in 1975 in paperback. Although it appears to be a regular book, it was a "special issue" of National Lampoon magazine, and therefore was sold on newsstands rather than in bookstores. The book was a collection of new material and was not an anthology of already published material.

The "199th Birthday" of the title is a reference to the fact that in 1976 the United States celebrated its 200th birthday, (the Bicentennial), thus in 1975 when this book was published the United States was 199 years old. The cover art was photographed by Arky & Barrett was conceived and art-directed by Michael C. Gross. It shows a row of four naked female models whose skin has been colored with bodypaint so they resemble the "Betsy Ross flag" with a star for the first American states, previously the Thirteen Colonies. The three naked models on the left wear dark wigs and the one on the right has a red wig, so that even their hair reflects the pattern of the flag.

The editor of the book was Tony Hendra. Contributors included Doug Kenney, P.J. O'Rourke, Michael O'Donoghue, Frank Frazetta, Sam Gross, Bobby London, Gahan Wilson, Jeff Jones, George Evans, and the illustrator Noel Sickles.

National Lampoon The Best of No. 4

National Lampoon The Best of #4 was an American humor book that was first published in 1972. The book was a "special issue" of National Lampoon magazine, so it was sold on newsstands, however it was put out in addition to the regular issues of the magazine.

The book is a "best-of", an anthology, a compilation of pieces that had already been published in the magazine, pieces that had been created by the National Lampoon's regular contributors. It includes pieces by Brian McConnachie, Gerald Sussman, Michael O'Donoghue, Henry Beard, Tony Hendra, Ron Barrett, Gahan Wilson, Doug Kenney, Sean Kelly, Christopher Cerf, Michel Choquette, Chris Miller, M. K. Brown, Rodrigues, and Edward Gorey.

National Lampoon The Gentleman's Bathroom Companion

National Lampoon The Gentleman's Bathroom Companion was a humorous book that was first published in 1975. It was a "special edition" of National Lampoon magazine, and as such it was sold on newsstands in addition to that month's regular issue of the magazine. The pieces in the book were created by regular contributors to the National Lampoon including Michael O'Donoghue, Henry Beard, Doug Kenney, Sean Kelly, Tony Hendra, P.J. O'Rourke and Ed Subitzky as well as Terry Southern and William Burroughs. The content was mostly, but not entirely, compiled from material that had already been published in the magazine.

The book cover art is a photograph which parodies a series of 1970s TV commercials advertising a blue toilet bowl cleanser in which a tiny man (known as the Ty-D-Bol man), wearing a neat nautical outfit and a yachting cap, was seen motoring around the inside of a toilet cistern in a tiny boat, always by himself. On the book cover parody, the Ty-D-Bol man is playing the ukulele and has a beautiful female companion in a bikini, however, the cistern is about to be flushed. The Ty-D-Bol man was played by Ed Subitzky.

A description (or possibly a subtitle) on the cover reads:

Being a Miscellany of Divers Ribald Drolleries Culled from the Pages of the National Lampoon, to which are appended Sundry Amusing Sketches by Mr. Sam Gross, Esq., and the Latest Novella by Mr. Chris Miller, B.A.

National Lampoon The Iron On Book

National Lampoon The Iron On Book was an American humor book that was published in 1976. It was a "special edition" of National Lampoon magazine and as such it was sold on newsstands along with the regular monthly issue of the magazine. It was edited by Tony Hendra.

This was a book of 16 designs that the purchaser could apply to tee shirts, using an iron. The cover says, "Sixteen Original Designs For Your Chest" and is illustrated with a photograph of a beautiful girl who has tried to apply one of the designs to her white tee shirt, and ended up with it on her chest instead. The design shown is the "Mona Gorilla" by Rick Meyerowitz.

Nick Ullett

Nicholas Metson Ullett (born 5 March 1941) is a British-born American actor. For a number of years, he was part of a comedy duo with Tony Hendra.

Sean Kelly (writer)

Sean Kelly (born July 1940) is a Canadian author, writer, humorist, voice actor and teacher originally from Montreal. Kelly was an editor of the National Lampoon magazine from 1971 to 1977. He and Fred Graver served as co-Editors in Chief of National Lampoon under the pseudonym L. Dennis Plunkett. He currently teaches in the Humanities and Media Studies department of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.

Suits (film)

Suits is a 1999 American comedy film written and directed by Eric Weber and starring Robert Klein, Tony Hendra, Larry Pine.

The Best of National Lampoon No. 1

The Best of National Lampoon No.1 was a humorous American book that was first published in 1971. The book was a special issue of National Lampoon magazine, so it was sold on newsstands. However, it was put out in addition to the regular issues of the magazine. The book was a "best-of", an anthology, a compilation of pieces that had already been published in the magazine, pieces that had been created by regular contributors to National Lampoon.

Several of the written pieces were created by Michael O'Donoghue, Doug Kenney, Henry Beard, Michel Choquette, Tony Hendra, and there was both writing and artwork by Arnold Roth. The cover featured the illustration "Mona Gorilla" by Rick Meyerowitz.

The Breast of National Lampoon

The Breast of National Lampoon: A Collection of Sexual Humor, is an American humor book that was first published in 1972. The book was a special issue of National Lampoon magazine, so it was sold on newsstands; however, it was put out in addition to the regular issues of the magazine. The book is a "best-of", a compilation of pieces that had already been published in the magazine, pieces that had been created by the National Lampoon's regular contributors.

The book included written pieces by Michael O'Donoghue, Chris Miller, Doug Kenney, Sean Kelly and Tony Hendra, and artwork by Arnold Roth.

The Messiah of Morris Avenue

The Messiah Of Morris Avenue is a 2006 novel by English satirist Tony Hendra. The novel depicts the Second Coming of Christ in a future United States ruled by the religious right. Tony Hendra has recorded several "Godcasts" recapping the events that have transpired between now and the second coming.

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