"HOLLYWOOD HAD HENDRIX'S NUMBER" by Kristi L. Nelson. Knoxville
News-Sentinel, January 8, 1995.
In the 1960s, a shoe phone was cutting-edge spy technology. In the 1990s, the
shoe phone is old hat and the bra phone is preferred for undercover work.
Ask Elaine Hendrix, one of new breed of agents in "Get Smart," a Fox
revival of the 1965-70 sitcom about bumbling spy Maxwell Smart
and his beautiful and smarter sidekick, Agent 99.
Don Adams is back as Smart, now chief of C.O.N.T.R.O.L, and Barbara Feldon,
has left the spy agency to become Congresswoman 99. The in-the-field spying
has passed on to Smart and 99's son, Zachary Smart, a screw-up just like dear
old dad, and another sexy, smart female agent who has a number for a name
Agent 66, played by Hendrix. "The difference in the shows is more like a
sign of the times," says 24- year-old actress Elaine Hendrix, who was in
Halls over the Christmas holiday to visit her dad, Tom Hendrix. "The
comedy is pretty much the same. It's very physical comedy. It's slapstick,
which is my favorite."
The new "Get Smart" debuts tonight. It airs at 7:30 p.m. Sundays on
Fox and is seen locally on WKCH-TV, Channel 43, in Knoxville and WEMT-TV,
Channel 39, in Greeneville.
Dressed in a snug black turtleneck, plaid shorts over black tights and
stylishly clunky heels, Hendrix looks as smart as her character, the tough,
.brilliant, sexy spy. She sits next to her dad on his living room couch.
"66 is the epitome of the '90s woman," Hendrix says. "She can
do everything. She knows everything. She's smart, sexy. Every little bit of
her I like."
Fox is hoping viewers will like 66 and her co-star Andy Dick, who plays
Zachary Smart, as much as they liked Barbara Feldon and Don Adams as Agent 99
and Maxwell Smart on the original series. But this time it's the female agent,
66, whose in charge. The younger Smart is learning the ropes from her as they
fight the C.O.N.T.R.O.L's old nemesis K.A.O.S., grown from an evil foreign spy
ring to an evil multinational corporation.
"That the show has Don Adams and Barbara Feldon in it is what I think
ultimately makes it work," Hendrix says. "If they had tried to pass
off Andy and me as the new Max and the new 99 it would have been a mess,
because it's kind of like a new generation."
And although it's been said Hendrix and Feldon look somewhat alike, despite
Hendrix's blond hair, Hendrix doesn't see it.
"Several people have said that What do you think?" she asks her
"I don't think so," he says. "But what do I know?"
"Maybe they get that more from looking at the characters, vs. actually
looking at Elaine Hendrix and Barbara Feldon," Elaine Hendrix speculates.
"Maybe 66 and 99 have resemblances."
They have differences, too.
"Where 99 used to have to come in and follow Max around and pick up after
Max, 66 is now the lead agent," Hendrix says. "Zach tries his best
to keep up with her, and she still very often has to pick up after him. But
she's very unpredictable. You never know what she's going to bring."
Tom Hendrix, who captained the University of Tennessee's basketball team in
1967 and now manages the coal truck division of a large trucking company, says
(his daughter is a little more predictable than Agent 66 in terms of her
"You always knew it would happen," he tells her, grinning.
Hendrix dreamed of being a performer since she attended elementary school in
Morristown and practiced her ice skating four or five times a week.
When her parents divorced, and her mother, Mary Hendrix, got a job offer in
Atlanta, Hendrix accompanied her, primarily to get a start in competitive ice
skating. But after enrolling in the 10th grade at Atlanta's Northside School
of the Performing Arts, she decided her main interest lay in jazz and
contemporary modern dance.
By the time Hendrix graduated from Northside in 1989, she had danced with Gary
Harrison's regional dance company on corporate industrial tours throughout the
United States and in Hong Kong, and in music videos forcomedian Andrew Dice
Clay and musicians Cameo, Whoudini and Keith Sweat.
In 1988 she won a model search for Atlanta agency Kiddin' Around/Real People,
kicking off a modeling career that landed her contracts with Levi's and Nike,
among others. She also danced with "Heartstrings," an ensemble of
Atlanta-area performers who volunteer their talents to raise money for AIDS
projects. Two years later, friends she made while working with
"Heartstrings" convinced her to move to Los Angeles.
"I kept making periodic trips to visit," she says. "I went out
for 10 days, then a month, then six or seven months. Then I moved there."
And while she says her home's still in East Tennessee, where her father
returned to live last year after 13 years in Kentucky, L.A.'s a good place to
(be for her career. She began working as a waitress in the Moustache Cafe,
while modeling, dancing and taking acting lessons.
An accident following a fashion tour in Italy forced a setback. Hendrix was
riding a bicycle to the motor vehicle department to renew her driver's
license, which she'd let lapse while out of the country, when she was hit by a
driver who ran a stop sign. She returned to Georgia for six months to
recuperate and was forced to give up dancing almost entirely.
Hendrix says she misses dancing, her first love. She doesn't miss skating as
"It's now a neat little hobby, a neat little craft I happen to
have," she says. "I don't miss the intense skating I used to do. The
dance, sometimes, I do miss, and every once in a while I get to utilize those
talents. I still do a show every now and then, and actually, in acting, dance
comes in very handy. In 'Get Smart' I do several of my own stunts."
Hendrix uses her ice skating skills in one episode and models in the
pilot..The show's writers can get creative with Agent 66, because the athletic
Hendrix, who led cheers and ran track in high school, has so many talents.
"I didn't know she could sing," teased Tom Hendrix, referring to his
daughter's singing in a nightclub in a "Get Smart" episode. Titled
"Shooting Up the Charts," Hendrix says the episode is her favorite
of the seven completed episodes.
While 66 is not completely open to Hendrix's interpretation, she says she has
some input when she really dislikes a line.
"I'm not in the position yet where I have scripts written for me,"
she says, "but if one of us really has a problem with something, the
writers are usually really good about listening."
Hendrix had watched episodes of the first "Get Smart" as a child,
and reruns on Nickolodeon more recently, she says. While she was auditioning
for the part, she studied the comedy, the timing and the characters,
especially Feldon's Agent 99.
Like 99, Agent 66 has plenty of gadgets to help her out.
"We have a Thermos phone," she says. And a "flush" phone.
"It's a toilet that when you lift it, there's a screen that's connected
back to headquarters.
"We had a flashlight that was a gun, and a gun that was a flashlight. We
have Insta-Key, which looks kind of like shaving cream. You squirt it into a
lock and it hardens and makes a key out of the foam. And we have Metal Melt
you spray it on and it can melt any kind of metal. I got kidnapped in one of
the episodes, and Zach came and got me out of a cage using Metal Melt. We had
all kinds of stuff. It's fun to play with."
Then there's the bra phone and the bullet bra, which gives 66 the ability to
launch bullets from her chest. These two are not among Hendrix's favorite
What Hendrix would like to do next is act in films and she reads six or eight
scripts a week. But in the meantime, she's not worried about where her career
"I always dreamed of this and worked for it, and whether I get to
continue on and do films, or whether I stay in television, or whether I come
back and open Betty Sue's School of Acting, you know, who knows?" she
says. "I think performing is what I was meant to do, and I'm blessed to
be able to do it."
A Big Tip O' The Hat to Ryan Schroer for
sending me this! Thanks, Ryan! J