Bob Pagani


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Connect the dots so Andy can get home!

This blog is for educational and entertainment purposes only.
Nearly all the information on this site has been published somewhere.
Internet, newspapers, magazines, books, podcasts, videos, etc.
Go ahead and look.

Andy Kaufman told at least FIFTEEN people that he planned to fake his death:

Bob Zmuda
Michael Kaufman
Carol Kaufman
George Shapiro
Lynne Margulies
Bob Tischler
Barry Blaustein
David Sheffield
John Moffitt
Jack Burns
Jeff Conaway
Alan Abel
Bob Pagani
Jerry Lawler
Mimi Lambert

Most of his closest friends think he could have.
Some of these people say they helped him do it.

Is Bob pulling one over on us?
Is Bob pulling one over on us?

Andy Kaufman, The Truth Finally

Andy was diagnosed with large cell carcinoma in November 1983.
This form of lung cancer is aggressive with high mortality rates.
Andy was a non-smoking vegetarian health nut since his 20s.
He told friends it was eating chocolate that gave him cancer.
When asked if he was really sick, he never gave a straight answer.
He didn’t tell his family until near the very end.

He visited a quack clinic in a Hollywood strip mall that was open only a few years.
The holistic doctors allegedly treated his left arm with radiation.
He said he was told to flush out the disease with tea and fasting.
He consequently lost many pounds, looking like a typical cancer patient.
His girlfriend Lynne admits she shaved his head. He kept his chest hair.

In March, Andy flew to the Philippines for psychic surgery.
It has been debunked as medical fraud, entirely placebo effect.
A healer claims to remove disease from the body with his hands.
It is a sleight-of-hand trick using chicken blood and guts as tumors.
Andy was obsessed with magic, carnival, and illusion.
He learned to levitate, swallow swords, and more.
He had to know that this was fake.

Jun Labo performing
Jun Labo performing “psychic surgery”
Are you buying it??

Dr. Rubins projected that he would not live past 1984.
Andy had a passport that did not expire until 1986.
This should have been sufficient for his trip, which was only a few weeks.
Canceled early, the replacement was good until 1994, another ten years.
His death certificate says he passed on May 16, 1984 at Cedars Sinai Hospital.

Canceled in '84 but good until '86

Good until '94
He needed one to last ten years after he was expected to die?  For a short trip?

Four years before he announced his illness, he wrote a screenplay where his character dies of cancer in Cedars Sinai Hospital and reappears alive at the end. He pitched the movie to Universal Pictures, but eventually got dismissed.

The Tony Clifton Story Script

Andy Kaufman’s social security number is not listed in the Social Security Administrations death index.
His SSN is still active and has listed many addresses over the past thirty years.
None of these belong to his relatives, their companies, or the family estate.

death certificate

>>> Death certificates are occasionally used to fake a person’s death for insurance fraud and to evade law enforcement officials or irate relatives. “Official” Los Angeles County death certificates, for example, were readily available in the mid-1990s for between $500 and $1,000 each. For fraudulent purposes, people have often used death certificates from remote nations and from countries in turmoil. <<<

“Andy changed the face of comedy forever by lurching across boundaries that no one knew existed. He was the boy who made life his playground and never stopped playing, even when the games proved too dangerous for others.  And in the end he would play alone, just as he had when it was all only beginning.

In Lost in the Funhouse, Bill Zehme sorts through a life of disinformation put forth by a master of deception to uncover the motivation behind the manipulation.”


His career includes a series of pranks and hoaxes.
He was always looking to be legendary.
What is real? What is fake?
That’s the Andy way.

You can keep your warped sense of humor here for a few years, YOU BUM!


All The Rest

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It was reported that 300 people attended Kaufman’s funeral. A handful were sex workers.

Many of the Late Night staff thought it was another classic Kaufman stunt.
Andy Kaufman Appearances on David Letterman

With Jerry Lawler on Letterman
With Jerry Lawler on Letterman

Former Letterman executive produer, Robert Morton was one of the few people to attend Andy’s funeral.

Robert Morton
Robert Morton

Carol Kane was the only Taxi cast member to attend his funeral.

Carol played Latka's wife Simka on Taxi
Carol played Latka’s wife Simka on Taxi

His manager, George Shapiro, refused to attend, and no one knows why.

George Shapiro and Bob Zmuda
George Shapiro and Bob Zmuda
They are proud to represent his future endeavors.
They are proud to represent his future endeavors.

Bill Zehme – Lost in the Funhouse, the official Kaufman biography:

“Andy would begin doing things he did not tell George about, such as plotting his own death, which was nothing if not the penultimate bombing.” “Throughout the next year he would posit the idea to other people – to Zmuda, certainly, as well as his sister and his brother and also Mimi Lambert.”

Zehme with Michael Kaufman
Zehme with Michael Kaufman

Saturday Night Live:

SNL producer Bob Tischler and two writers, Barry Blaustein and David Sheffield were let in on the concept,  “…the hoax I’d really like to pull off is my death.  But I’m afraid of doing it – because when I do these things, I do them for real, and so I wouldn’t even be able to tell my parents,” Andy confided.

Bob Tischler
Bob Tischler
Barry Blaustein
Barry Blaustein
David Sheffield
David Sheffield

Bob Thompson  (a professor of pop culture at Syracuse University):

“I still try to hold onto a little bit of hope that he didn’t really die. But I have to say, if he is going to come back and still have an audience, he’d better do it pretty soon.”

Bob Thompson
Bob Thompson

Ron Jeremy:

[were you friends?] “OF COURSE and still is, Legendary!”

Ron Jeremy
Ron Jeremy

Merle Kessler (a hoaxer and founding member of the Duck’s Breath Mystery Theater):

“When Kaufman died I thought it was a joke. People on the street would approach Andy (sitting in his wheelchair) and say, ‘Andy, come on man.  This dying bit is just too much!’ Andy would turn to friends and just shrug in astonishment, ‘Can you believe it? They think I’m making this up!'”

Merle Kessler
Merle Kessler

Penn Jillette:

I really never met Andy, but once I saw just him in the crowd at the California State Fair. Teller said, “There’s Andy Kaufman!” He was dressed like a redneck-style trucker, and he was yelling at the guy behind the counter, “I’m not that faggot on Taxi, asshole, what the fuck is wrong with you? I don’t play no fucking faggot on no fucking TV show, you piece a horseshit.” And we watched him, and Teller said, “yeah, that’s Andy Kaufman,” and I said, “It sure is.”

Penn Jillette
Penn Jillette

Marilu Henner:

“During our first season, Judd and I ran into Andy in New York. We were doing some publicity for the show. And we saw him panhandling in the Bowery. He was bum, a total bum. I mean, we had a hit sitcom on the air, and there he was, panhandling, because he wanted the experience.”

“Oh, my gosh. I’ll tell you one that wasn’t in the movie. One time Andy came in with the most humongous boil you’ve ever seen. It was three inches in diameter at least. It was disgusting. He said, ‘Watch this.’ He made an announcement to the audience. He said that for a dollar they could line up and touch Andy’s boil. A hundred and eight people lined up and did it. That’s how crazy he was, but crazy fun.”

Marilu Henner
Marilu Henner

Robin Williams:

“Andy was the master of the comic switch; at his tribute, people were expecting Tony Clifton to speak.” (on death/funeral service)

Robin Williams
Robin Williams

Danny Devito:

“He would come into a room, no matter where, and the psychological room would become his room. You were participating in his drama. Whether he was going to pick a fight with a waitress or whatever. It was always exciting. If there was anybody who manifested the phrase, all the world is a stage, this was the guy. Everything he did was his art.”

“I’ve always had this strange feeling that i was being set up- that Andy was in cahoots with [director] Milos [Foreman]… Even now, I wonder sometimes…”

Danny DeVito
Danny DeVito

Vernon Chatman (South Park producer, curated Andy and his Grandmother tapes):

“If there’s one American personality who could fake his death in the last 60 years, it would be Andy. The fact that he died of lung cancer at 35 is just crazy. On the [unreleased] tapes he would talk about going on meditation retreats. He had a level of patience and commitment that he practiced from the age of 20.”

Vernon Chatman
Vernon Chatman

John Moffitt (producer of Fridays):

“Andy asked to speak privately to both me and Jack [Burns]. We moved into a quiet room away from the others, and Andy closed the door, making sure no one besides us could hear. He told us he was about to embark on the greatest prank of his career and made us swear we would never repeat it to a living soul. He then told us it would be the biggest thing in the history of show business, then he lowered his voice and said, ‘I’m going to fake my death, go into hiding for 10 years, and then reappear.’”
“Andy said, ‘Come downstairs. I want to talk to you.’ So Jack and I went down there with him. And Andy closed the door and said, ‘Okay. I have another idea, something I really want to do.’ And he started telling us that he was going to fake his own death. And it seemed very logical to us. We just thought, you know, Okay — that’s Andy, that’s the next thing he’s gonna do. You know, we’d faked the fight on the set of Fridays. And then he’d done this whole evangelical thing, where he wanted this evangelist to marry him to this woman, and he was gonna come on and pretend he’d Seen the Light and was Born Again . . . Andy was always into those things.

“And so when he said he was gonna fake his death, we thought, Great! And, of course, I thought, If you’re gonna come back again, do it on our show. Because . . . Andy was really like a lightning rod. He could do things that everybody would pay attention to. So we thought, Yeah, that’s a great idea. So after talking it through, we went upstairs, and that was the end of that.

“And then the show got canceled. And then, all of a sudden I heard Andy was sick. And I’m thinking, Okay — here we go! He’s doing it! And then someone said, ‘No, really. We saw Andy, and he’s really, really sick. He’s lost his hair, he’s thin as a rail, he’s really sick.’ And I again thought, ‘You know, Andy would go to any kind of extreme to fake this, to do his prank. He would starve himself, he’d tear out his hair, he would undernourish himself. He would do it. That’s what Andy would do.’ He was always testing how far he could go, testing the limits of comedy and beyond.

“I mean, it was just the perfect next prank. Where would he go next? He’d done the whole wrestling thing and all of that, so what would he do to make a huge splash, get a lot of press, a lot of attention? It’d have to be something really big, and what could be bigger than that?”

“People were saying, No, Andy really is dead,and I came around to kind of believing, Gee, maybe he actually is. A lot of people didn’t believe it, because they knew Andy’s pranks.

“Is he or isn’t he? You never can tell. You just can’t completely dismiss it. There’s nobody like Andy. Nobody has done things like him. Nobody has gone out that far. Nobody has tested the audience and the limits of laughs, of comedy, as Andy has. So if anybody would do it, it would be Andy.

“It’s not that I believe he’s still alive — but every once in a while I think maybe he is going to pop up. And if he does, it may be the greatest prank of all time, but what’s he done with 20 years of his life? He had to have another life somewhere.”

John Moffitt
John Moffitt

Carol Kane:

“Anybody who was associated with him has some little, minute-but-still-present hope in their hearts and minds. I don’t think any of us really believe it. But there’s still that strange hope. Because he never broke any act, he never let on when he was up to something, he never winked at anybody ever. I don’t think anybody was completely in on everything except Andy.”

Carol Kane
Carol Kane

George Shapiro:

“He did talk about faking his death. He was driving over to my office when he heard John Belushi died. And he said, Belushi stole my bit! He’s faking his death! That’s what he felt.”

George Shapiro
George Shapiro

Bob Pagani:

Kaufman was “extremely interested” in Abel’s death hoax. “He was asking Alan all about how he did it.”

Bob Pagani
Bob Pagani

Jeff Conaway

“Andy always said he wanted to fake his own death and disappear. He’s probably been off somewhere waiting tables for the last 15 years, waiting when the right time was to reappear.”

Jeff Conaway
Jeff Conaway

Ed Cavanagh (Gotham Comedy Club):

“You could see by the look on [Michael’s] face that it had an emotional impact on him. I don’t know whether somebody is perpetrating something on him or not. I’m truly 50-50 on this one.” (about the “daughter” incident)

Michael Stipe (REM):

“What I was doing with the lyric for Man on the Moon was pulling in various crackpot conspiracy theories of our time, like Elvis Presley was still alive somewhere. And, even more absurd and ourageous, that when they sent a man to walk on the moon that he actually went to a stage set up somewhere in Arizona and the moonwalk never really occurred. And these were the comparisons I was drawing to the people who were not able to believe that Kaufman was dead, that, to the end, he was pulling a prank. That that idea is just as outrageous as those other theories. That he, for me, as a fan of his, puts himself on that level by being such a prankster that people actually thought that.”

Michael Stipe
Michael Stipe

Tatarsky, Alexandra

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Michael seemed to believe it
Michael seemed to believe it

Alexandra Tatarsky was the young woman who appeared at the Andy Kaufman Awards in 2013, claiming to be Andy’s daughter.
She was brought on stage by Andy’s brother, who talked about a mysterious letter he received a few years back, that he believed was from Andy.

At least two of the people recognized her from the “On Creating Reality” Andy Kaufman exhibit at the Maccarone Gallery in NYC 2013.

Bob Pagani:
I have no desire to get into the middle of the controversy between Lynne [Margulies] and the Kaufmans. I have to say, however, that I’m confused by the thing with Michael and Andy’s “missing daughter.” Since the incident at the Awards last year, Michael has said things that seem to imply that he was duped by the young woman who claimed to be the daughter. I don’t see how that can be possible as she worked at the art gallery that hosted the exhibition about Andy last year which Michael and I were guests at (as was Lynne too). He and I both met her there. I recognized her immediately when I saw her on TV claiming to be Andy’s daughter. The logical conclusion would be that Michael and she cooked up the idea. No crime was committed so I don’t understand why he would deny that.

Lon Osgood (husband of Margulies):
I recognized her [Tatarsky] as well, she’s actually a very lovely soul.

Michael Kaufman:

I wasn’t happy before I met her [Tatarsky], but I think she was not— I was just going to say I don’t think she was in on it, but then again, maybe she was playing with me that night we met. Who knows? But it sounded like she was also, at least what she portrayed to me that night, that she was also hoaxed.

How could she have been hoaxed??

Kaufman, Michael

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Michael being interviewed on CNN after the AKA incident
Michael being interviewed on CNN

Michael Kaufman is Andy’s younger brother, born two years later.
He met his wife Pru after she was hired to Warner Cable by Al Parinello.

Michael, an accounting and financial business consultant who was a stand-up comedian from 1983 to 1985, remembers working with his brother at a show at William Paterson University (then called William Paterson College) on April 29, 1982.

“Andy wanted to franchise Tony Cliftons,” says Michael Kaufman, who actually played Clifton during the Carnegie Hall show where Andy and Tony sung on stage together. “He wanted a Tony Clifton in every state.”

Michael as Tony Clifton for the Carnegie Hall show
Partners in Crime: Michael as Tony Clifton for the Carnegie Hall show

In Michael’s collection is a wonderful series of communications where Andy went to visit a girl who was dying. She was a fan of his, and when his plane was delayed in Chicago on its way to Washington, he drove out to Demotte, Indiana, to visit her.

“Word got out at the hospital and Andy wrestled three people. I have pictures. They were supposedly nurses and maybe one patient’s mother. It’s the only time he ever lost a match. He let them beat him. And then there’s a letter from the mother, thanking Andy for doing that. Seven weeks after his visit, she died. That whole correspondence will be there. Andy never told anyone about that. I only knew about it because I went through the stuff.”

Singing 'La Bamba' in gibberish fake Spanish
Singing ‘La Bamba’ in gibberish fake Spanish

In 1981, Andy received a letter from the mother of an Indiana fan, a terminally ill young woman  with cystic fibrosis, whom Andy visited in the hospital. Her mother thanked him for brightening her daughter’s final days. The daughter’s name was Mary Jean Burden.

“This is the side of him nobody knows,” says Michael, who wishes the writers of “Man on the Moon” had put that in the movie. “When I read the script and Andy died, I said, ‘Who cares?’ It didn’t move me that he died, and he’s my brother. I didn’t see the heart in the movie.”

Michael and parents on the left
Michael and parents on the left. Nice shorts!

Many folks believe that Michael Kaufman arranged the daughter prank at the Andy Kaufman Awards in November, 2013. Bob Pagani says he and Michael met Alexandra Tatarsky her during the exhibit, because she worked at the gallery.

Michael said, “I wasn’t happy before I met her, but I think she was not— I was just going to say I don’t think she was in on it, but then again, maybe she was playing with me that night we met. Who knows? But it sounded like she was also, at least what she portrayed to me that night, that she was also hoaxed.”

How could Michael have been fooled? How could she have been hoaxed??

Abel, Alan

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Media hoaxer/satirist Alan Abel giving a speech
Media hoaxer/satirist Alan Abel giving a speech

“I had my own obituary in The New York Times. I got eight inches of space, which is two more than the guy who invented the six-pack got. Only he actually died that day.”

Alan Abel would appear under different aliases, like Bruce Spencer, Dr. Harrison T. Rogers, Jim Rogers, G. Clifford Prout, Count Von Blitzstein, Martin Ostracher, Rufus Thunderberg, or Martin Swagg Jr. His NY Times obituary said he was survived by brother Bruce Spencer. lol

In 1980, Alan Abel was introduced to Andy Kaufman. “We had a special kinship,” he says, explaining how they bonded over their pranks. The comedian obsessed over the details of how he faked his death, and he pumped Abel for more information about how he pulled it off.

“He [Andy Kaufman] wanted to collaborate on something really fantastic and enormous, but we could never figure out what it would be. He was especially fascinated with my rejection book and how I had gotten people to believe I was dead. He’d say, “How can I do that? I want to do that.’”

By Bob Pagani’s account, Kaufman was “extremely interested” in Abel’s death hoax. “He was asking Alan all about how he did it.”

The trio [Bob Pagani, Alan Abel, and Andy Kaufman] met in the plush lobby of the Hilton on 53rd Street, where Kaufman was staying.

Abel said he told Kaufman everything, that day and during the friendship that followed: how he put his “team” to work, setting up a fake funeral home in a trailer in Orem, Utah, and reserving All Souls Church in Manhattan for the funeral. Then there was the critical dispatch — an actress friend with a gift for weeping on cue, who arrived at the Times office an hour before deadline, and that too, on a Sunday, when the second stringers were in charge.

“A few months before Andy Kaufman “died,” he read the galleys of my book published during the spring of 1984. One chapter dealt with my fake obituary in the NY Times. He wanted to know even more details on how I carried off my demise that fooled relatives, friends, the media and even creditors.. So I remain one of those who question his passing.”