Tony Hendra, Who Played Bumbling ‘Spinal Tap’ Manager, Dies

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Tony Hendra and Christopher Guest in This Is Spinal Tap

Tony Hendra, who played the bumbling manager to the rock band Spinal Tap in Rob Reiner’s 1984 “mockumentary” This Is Spinal Tap, died yesterday (March 4, 2021), in Yonkers, NY. The actor, whose wide ranging career also included serving as managing editor at the magazine, National Lampoon, died from ALS. He was 79.

Hendra, born July 10, 1941, in Willesden, England, joined the staff of the National Lampoon upon its launch in 1970, after years as working as part of a comedy team with Nick Ullett. The pair’s career crossed with many of the era’s acknowledged leaders of the field including Lenny Bruce, Jackie Mason and George Carlin.

Watch them perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1965

In 1972, Hendra directed and co-wrote National Lampoon’s Lemmings, an off-Broadway revue that included Chevy Chase, John Belushi, and Christopher Guest in its cast.

Years later, Hendra was cast as Ian Faith, the hapless band manager in 1984’s This Is Spinal Tap.

Watch him eagerly share the first copies of Smell the Glove album with the band

The band felt humiliated when they performed on stage with a miniature replica of Stonehenge as a stage prop. “Nigel gave me a drawing that said 18 inches,” Hendra’s character explains in his own defense. “I do what I’m told. It’s my job to do what I’m asked to do by the creative element of this band. And that’s what I did.”

“The Boston gig has been cancelled. I wouldn’t worry about it; it’s not a big college town.”

Related: More on This Is Spinal Tap

In their obituary, The New York Times wrote that not long after he published, Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul, a 2004 book about a monk who helped him through personal setbacks, Hendra’s daughter, Jessica, accused him of sexually abusing her on several occasions.

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  1. Mistermuse
    #1 Mistermuse 5 March, 2021, 21:13

    It should be mentioned that Tony Hendra recorded a hilarious parody vocal of John Lennon on the first National Lampoon LP “Radio Dinner” (1972). The lyrics were based on Lennon’s extensive 1970 Rolling Stone interview with Jann Wenner. Pop singer Melissa Manchester played the piano on the track, “Magical Misery Tour Bootleg Record)”, and was also the Yoko Ono voice on it. “Genius is Pain!”

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    • Lorelei
      Lorelei 6 March, 2021, 16:19

      I still have that album 🙂 I got it because Melissa Manchester was on it. Such a funny album – I remember “Genius is Pain.” R.I.P. Tony Hendra

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  2. Gripweed
    #2 Gripweed 6 April, 2021, 21:08

    RIP Tony! Thanks for all the laughs!

    PS-Why the fook isn’t “Radio Dinner” available on CD?

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