Andy Kaufman was one of those enigmatic envelope pushers who was always playing stunts to get a rise out of people. If you’ve seen Jim Carrey in Man on the Moon you’ll know what I’m talking about. The official story was that he died in 1984 at the age of 35 from lung cancer.
Just today his brother Michael Kaufman, claimed that Andy might not have ever died. Here’s CNN:
In a tale almost as outlandish as his brother’s skits, Michael Kaufman told an audience at a New York comedy club Monday night that he received a letter from his brother 15 years after his death. He then introduced a woman he said was his brother’s daughter born in 1989.
Michael Kaufman explained he was going through Andy’s writings many years ago and found a reference to him “talking about faking his death,” including the line, “I will reappear.” It said Andy’s reappearance would take place at a restaurant on Christmas Eve in 1999.
When Michael Kaufman went to the restaurant, he said, a parking attendant gave him a letter purportedly from his brother. Michael Kaufman read the letter to the audience at Monday’s annual Andy Kaufman Awards show. Video of the reading was obtained by CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”
“It was too much pressure to be Andy Kaufman. I just wanted to be Andy,” Michael Kaufman read. “I think that’s why I got sick. I had to change completely and quickly. I’m extremely very happily married with the most wonderful wife in the whole wide world and with the two greatest kids: a 10-year-old daughter and a son who is 8.”
Michael Kaufman said he was “obviously moved by this, but I’m also real skeptical.”
He then introduced a 24-year-old woman as Andy’s now-grown daughter.
Michael Kaufman told the audience the woman approached him about a month after his father, Stanley Kaufman, died this summer: “She told me a lot of secrets that Andy and I had together, like our secret handshake, the way Andy made fun of me for being too nice of a guy.”
Unfortunately, the next piece of the puzzle is revealed as The Smoking Gun reports that the daughter is not who she says she is, but rather an actor hired by Michael to play along in the stunt:
On Thursday, The Smoking Gun reported that the woman is a young actress who posed as the comedian’s daughter and that she’s really the daughter of a 58-year-old psychologist. Earlier reports of Monday’s event surfaced on The Hollywood Reporter, which attributed the original reports to The Comic’s Comic and Defamer.
So take that for what it’s worth. It appears that it was all a trick, but I still wouldn’t rule out a faked death. 35 years old is awfully young to die from lung cancer. Not that it couldn’t happen, but statistically it is slimmer than typical.
DailyMail ran some images of a supposed Kaufman living in New Mexico: