Tony Hendra — the British humorist best known as the “This is Spinal Tap” manager who blunderingly shrunk Stonehenge — died Thursday of Lou Gehrig’s disease in Yonkers, NY.
He was 79, and had battled the illness, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, since 2019.
“A brilliant satirist,” the iconic 1984 mockumentary’s director, Rob Reiner, tweeted in memorializing Hendra’s death.
Hendra got his start in the early 1960s as a member of the Cambridge University Footlights review, appearing on stage with future Monty Python stars John Cleese and Graham Chapman.
He moved to the U.S. in 1964 and — with his comedy partner Nick Ullett — opened for the legendary Lenny Bruce in Greenwich Village.
Hendra was most prolific as a comedy writer. He penned skits for the popular U.K. comedy series “That Was The Week That Was,” and for Hugh Hefner’s “Playboy After Dark,” then started working at National Lampoon magazine.
There he became a member of an underground satire scene that included John Belushi and Christopher Guest — who cast him as Ian Faith in “This is Spinal Tap.”
Hendra’s ridiculously small Stonehenge stage set earned some of the movie’s best laughs — as did this entendre-laden line, delivered while holding a cricket bat:
“Certainly, in the topsy-turvy world of heavy rock, having a good solid piece of wood in your hand is often useful.”
Another big laugh came when the cricket bat-wielding Hendra brushed off a cancelled Boston gig, Reiner noted.
“A brilliant satirist who when learning that the band’s Boston gig had been canceled, told them not to worry [because] Boston wasn’t a big college town,” Reiner’s tweet read.
Hendra published a religious memoir in 2004, titled “Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul,” which prompted his estranged daughter, Jessica, to accuse him of molesting her. He denied the accusations.
With Post wires