Claim: Comedian Andy Kaufman is alive, many years after faking his death.
Example: [PRWeb, 2004]
Andy Kaufman's official site has been launched at:
Even though he has technically returned, Andy says that he plans to maintain his low key lifestyle that he has led for the past twenty years. He has resumed contact with friends and family. Fearing the possibility of this scenario and the potential for another hoax, Kaufman's family has contracted with independent auditors Ernst & Young to determine if this in fact the real Andy Kaufman. He has subjected himself to medical examination and submitted DNA, hair, blood and fingerprint samples to the auditors. Ernst & Young and the Kaufman family report that with a 99% probability, this is indeed the real Andy Kaufman. His mother says, "It's good to have Andy back."
In 1999, a new crop of Kaufman fans were born after Jim Carrey starred in the hit film Man on the Moon. "Andy's bizarre mix of comedy and performance art will inspire fans and comedians alike for generations, especially after this stunt," says Jim Carrey.
Andy says he will make only occasional public appearances, sometimes in disguise so that you won't know if it's really him or someone else. Kaufman was famous for pulling this stunt with the Tony Clifton character, sometimes played by good friend Bob Zmuda.
Andy says fans should tune into his website for ongoing updates to his adventures in life. As always, Andy's stage has been the world, testing the boundaries of our beliefs, our sources of information, and our perception of reality. "It's good to be back," Andy writes on his website.
Origins: One would be hard-pressed to think of any other entertainer who sowed as much doubt about his true character than comedian Andy Kaufman did in the 1970s and 1980s. He adopted multiple personas and stayed in character even when he was off-stage. He performed as other people. Or he had other people perform as him. Or maybe he was performing as other people pretending to be him. He staged tantrums and altercations so convincingly that audiences were left wondering whether his
But the end did come — on
Nonetheless, in the nearly thirty years since his death, "Andy Kaufman is alive!" rumors have been refueled and run out for a few laps around the track a number of times. Most recently, in November 2013 a woman took the stage with Kaufman's brother Michael at the 9th Annual Andy Kaufman Awards hosted at the Gotham Comedy Club in
However, the woman in question claimed to be
Kaufman does have an actual daughter, Maria Colonna, who lives in upstate
Posing as the late comedian's daughter, Alexandra Tatarsky, 24, appeared at the Andy Kaufman Awards and told the audience that Kaufman dropped out of show business nearly three decades ago to be a "stay-at-home dad."
According to a source familiar with [the] Kaufman stunt, Tatarsky met Michael Kaufman while working at a Manhattan gallery exhibiting a collection of Kaufman "ephemera and artifacts" from the comedian's personal and professional life. Tatarsky was recruited by Michael Kaufman to play the role of Andy Kaufman's daughter.
Contacted by THR, Michael Kaufman said that the woman claiming to be Kaufman's daughter was impossible to reach, for reasons he would explain later. He then excused himself, saying he had a dinner date with his wife.
Sounding rushed and harried in a short phone conversation [the next] morning, Michael Kaufman apologized for having to delay a planned interview with THR, the second such postponement in two days. He then admitted that the attention foisted upon him in the last
"This is so, like, out of my league what's going on here," Kaufman said.
The brother would not comment on the allegations regarding Tatarsky. Saying he was late for planned TV appearances, he only offered the following, backpedaling on his initial claims:
"I think I've been misquoted, OK?" Kaufman says. "I never came out with, 'He's alive.' I'm as skeptical as anybody else."
The "celebrity-died-young actually faked his own death to drop out of the public eye" rumor has long since been milked for all its worth. Every decade sees it applied to at least one prominent
The supposedly recent photographs of Andy Kaufman appearing as Tony Clifton, his abusive lounge singer character, displayed in the "Andy Kaufman Returns" blog were taken from a May 2004 Andy Kaufman tribute event, during which Kaufman's friend and writing partner, Bob Zmuda, played Tony Clifton. Zmuda himself said, during a 1999 interview:
Although many have speculated that Kaufman, a notorious prankster, could have indeed faked his death, a press release was issued today from
"I faked the whole thing", Proust explained, "it was very easy to do. I am deeply sorry for any distress I have caused to the Kaufman family and any of Andy's closest friends". He continued, "it was my intention to continue the spirit of Andy Kaufman alive and to provoke debate about his possible whereabouts, but I did not anticipate the feelings of those closest to him, and for that I'm very sorry." On his website Proust, as Kaufman, had made several defamatory remarks about the Kaufman family, claiming that they themselves part of an elaborate hoax and were not actually related to Kaufman. It is rumoured that these remarks may have prompted their recent "cease and desist" order against Proust.
Kaufman's life-long friend and charity event organizer, Bob Zmuda, made the following statement regarding Proust's press release. "I'm very glad to hear that
"If Andy was coming back," added Zmuda, "believe me, I'd know about it, and he's definitey not".
According to Proust, his website, "Andy Kaufman Returns" will be taken down within the next few weeks and it is expected that he will post an apology and explanation shortly. "I still hope that Andy will one day make a triumphant return", he said.
The Kaufman hoax returned in September 2014, when Bob Zmuda reversed course (because he had a book to sell) and claimed that not only did he believe that Kaufman had engaged in some ridiculously far-fetched scheme to fake his death, but that Kaufman would be emerging to reveal his great prank to the world very soon:
When the body double died, Zmuda says, a switch was made, with the double buried as Kaufman, and Kaufman being spirited away to start his new life.
Zmuda believes that, given Kaufman’s self-declared 30-year timeline, his return is imminent. Kaufman died in May 1984. If Zmuda is correct, then Kaufman is already late.
Last updated: 28 September 2014
Abramovitch, Seth. "Andy Kaufman's Brother Says Comedian is Alive." The Hollywood Reporter. 13 November 2013. Abramovitch, Seth. "Andy Kaufman's Brother on Death Hoax Claims." The Hollywood Reporter. 14 November 2013. Blum, Haley. "Andy Kaufman's 'Daughter' Says He's Still Alive." USA Today. 14 November 2013. Heigl, Alex. "Andy Kaufman May Still Be Alive ... or Not." People. 14 November 2013. The Smoking Gun. "Andy Kaufman's 'Daughter' Is Actually a New York Actress." 14 November 2013.