Aka Jannin Hendy | Jeanine Hendy | Jenny Hendy
Janine Hendy was one of the more prominent black actresses to work in Italian cinema during the early 1960s. Maybe not a star – certainly not like Kerima, for instance, who was able to generate interest in the mainstream press – but certainly familiar to those with an interest in Italian B-Movies of the time. Perhaps her best known roles were in the two Taur films directed by Antonio Leonviola in 1963, Taur, il re della forza bruta and more particularly Thor and the Amazon Women, in which she played the antagonist to the titular hero Joe Robinson.
As with so many starlets of the time, surprisingly little is known about her. Some sources, however, indicate that she was an American, born in New York, who came to Italy in the early 1960s to pursue her interest in cinema. Acting, however, wasn’t her only passion; she was also fascinated with antiques and, in tandem with appearing in films, she also worked as a set designer, which might well have been what she was doing when she was ‘discovered’ by Giorgio Simonelli, who gave her a small part in his Walter Chiari vehicle I baccanali di Tiberio. Several other films followed in close succession: an actress called ‘Gloria Hendy’ appeared in Fellini’s La dolce vita, and the fact that this ‘Gloria Hendy’ also appeared in films for Giorgio Simonelli (Robin Hood and the Pirates) and Antonio Leonviola (Mole Men Against the Son of Hercules), two directors with whom Janine Hendy would later work regularly, it’s not too much of a stretch to assume that the two actresses are one and the same person. [note: those fabulous folks at cinemafrodiscendente have unearthed an article which clears this up, stating that Gloria was Janine’s sister and the two of them were cousins to Harry Belafonte)
In some of her early films (Messalina, The Mongols) she played a dancer, indicating that perhaps she also worked in the vibrant Roman nightclub scene. But by 1962 she was starting to get more prominent roles: she has a meaty supporting part in Simonelli’s spy comedy I due nemici before appearing in the Taur movies. Thor and the Amazon Women featured her most prominent role, playing the ‘Black Queen’ an evil tyrant who has a liking for female gladiators and an understandable fear of musclemen.
As soon as her career seemed to be taking off, though, it ended. In 1964 she founded Hendy, a Antiques company specialized in a wide range of artifacts, from sixteenth and seventeenth African Sculpture to Pop Art, which had a couple of shops in Rome and specialized in furnishing villas and sets for films. She did appear in two more films – Quarta parete (68) for Adriano Bolzoni and La pecora nera (68) for Luciano Salce – before returning to her business, which was becoming increasingly successful and still exists today.
Giallo club. Invito al poliziesco (TV Series) – Un giorno prima (1960)
La dolce vita (Woman in Via Veneto) (uncredited)
Robin Hood and the Pirates (Saracen Woman) (as Jeanine Hendy)
I baccanali di Tiberio
Che femmina… e che dollari! (as Jannin Hendy)
Mole Men Against the Son of Hercules (Queen’s Handmaid Playing the Harp) (as Jannin Hendy)
The Mongols (Harem dancer) (uncredited)
I tre nemici (Zazà) (as Jenny Hendy)
Passport for a Corpse (Jeanine)
Thor and the Amazon Women (The Black Queen)
Taur, il re della forza bruta (Afer)
The Hours of Love (as Jannin Hendy)
Quarta parete (Pilla) (as Jeanine Hendy)
La pecora nera (as Jannin Hendy)