British satirist and humorist Tony Hendra died in Yonkers, New York on Thursday, March 4, 2021.
Hendra was 79 years old.
The humorist Tony Hendra has died at 79. His résumé included top editing jobs at National and Spy magazines and a zesty role in the mockumentary “This Is Spinal Tap,” but his well-received memoir led a daughter to accuse him of sexual abuse. https://t.co/J85DZFdzXT
— New York Times Arts (@nytimesarts) March 5, 2021
He suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Rob Reiner directed Hendra in the 1984 movie This Is Spinal Tap paid tribute to Hendra on social media.
Tony Hendra who played Spinal Tap’s manager, Ian, has sadly passed away. A brilliant satirist who when learning that the band’s Boston gig had been canceled, told them not to worry that Boston wasn’t a big college town. R.I.P.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) March 5, 2021
Tony Hendra is survived by his wife Carla Hendra, six children, a brother, two sisters and four grandchildren.
Here are three things to know about Tony Hendra.
1. He Was A Prolific Writer
Hendra wrote for the monthly National Lampoon magazine during its heyday in the 1970s.
He co-wrote, produced, and directed an off-Broadway revue called Lemmings in 1973.
Hendra’s cast consisted of young rising comedians including John Belushi and Chevy Chase.
For a short time, Hendra was the head writer and producer for a 1984 show called “Spitting Image.”
In 1987, he wrote Going Too Far which chronicled anti-establishment satire from the 1950s through 1980s.
2. He Worked On Stage And On Screen
When Hendra came to America, he teamed up with British born American actor and comedian Nick Ullett.
They had regular shows in San Francisco, New York, and Washington, DC.
Their work led to multiple appearances on The Merv Griffin Show and The Ed Sullivan Show.
Hendra also appeared in Miami Vice, The Cosby Mysteries, Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
3. His Legacy Was Impacted By Abuse Allegations From His Daughter
He wrote a memoir called Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul in 2004.
The story centers around Hendra as a troubled youth having an affair with a married woman.
When her husband found out about the affair, he took Hendra to Quarr Abbey, a monastery.
At Quarr Abbey, Hendra meets Father Joseph Warrilow who changed his life.
Under his influence, Hendra wanted to be a monk until Warrilow encouraged him to go to college.
Warrilow was a spiritual advisor and trusted friend for the next 40 years.
The theme of Father Joe centers around Hendra’s spiritual renaissance which prompted his daughter Jessica (from his first marriage) to attack the hypocrisy of the book’s message.
She then publicly and repeatedly accused him of sexual abuse.
He refuted her accusations, but the story was covered over the years by The New York Times and USA Today.
It is unclear if Tony made amends with his daughter prior to his death.
Ironically and sadly, Tony Hendra was classmates at St. Albans School with Stephen Hawking.
Hawking, the renowned physicist, died nearly three years (to the day) before Hendra on March 14, 2018 of the same disease Hendra had, ALS.
In the age of social media and the internet, satire is not as prevalent in society.
The fact that Tony Hendra evolved and continued to stay relevant in the entertainment industry despite being in a dying genre of satire is a testament to his talent and longevity.