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Andy Kaufman told at least FIFTEEN people that he planned to fake his death:
Most of his closest friends think he could have.
Some of these people say they helped him do it.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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??
Al Parinello (Andy Kaufman Award executive producer) said that Michael Kaufman’s suspicions about his brother date back to approximately the late ’80s, when Michael discovered among Andy’s letters an elaborate plan for staging his own death.
They were heightened in 1999 when Michael received a letter alluding to a ‘traditional Christmas dinner,’ an inside joke between the siblings, and claiming that Andy was still alive and raising a daughter.
Correspondence has continued intermittently over the years, according to Parinello.
“I witnessed the entire thing and I can tell you without a doubt this was not a prank,” says Al Parinello, a lifelong friend of the comedian who produces the AK Awards.
Parinello, who met Kaufman when they were undergrads at Grahm Junior College in Boston, says he is convinced of the story’s veracity, even though he attended Kaufman’s funeral and saw his body with his own eyes.
“It was a closed casket,” he recalls. “Only the family actually saw the body.”
How then does he reconcile Monday’s events? “Andy was an aficionado of meditation,” he explains.
“One of the things Andy was taught at the highest level was a process where one could slow down his breath to a point where you can literally fool anyone that you may be dead when in fact you are alive.
So that’s the one thing that Michael checked for.”
Ed Cavanagh (Gotham Comedy Club, where the AK Awards were held)
“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 [Michael] or not.
I’m truly 50-50 on this one.”
“Andy and I worked together back in the day, and I feel like we became really pretty close friends. I know that Andy talked even back then a lot about the idea that the ultimate prank that he could ever pull would be to fake his own death and then come back 10 or 15 years later.”
“I would like nothing better than to know that Andy was still alive and been with us all this time But like anybody else, I really don’t know any more than what I’ve heard.
It could be a great hoax in his honor, dreamed up by his friend Bob Zmuda and his brother, Michael. That would be something that would be in keeping with Andy’s tradition, but who’s to say. It could really be legit.”
When asked if perhaps the scene at the awards could have been a hoax executed from beyond the grave with help from Kaufman’s brother Michael, Lawler said: “[Michael] was not like Andy at all in the sense that I wouldn’t think of Michael as the kind of guy who would pull off the practical jokes that Andy did or the elaborate ruses that Andy did. I don’t know. I know that Michael said that he did find this essay that Andy wrote going into detail about how he would go about faking his own death and that sort of thing. I don’t know. I really don’t know.”
Lawler challenged Kaufman, if he really is alive, to climb back into the ring. “There should be a WrestleMania rematch between Andy and The King. We could rekindle the feud with no problem.”
“I had a couple of thoughts. Andy and I worked together back in the day, and I feel like we became really pretty close friends. I know that Andy talked even back then a lot about the idea that the ultimate prank that he could ever pull would be to fake his own death and then come back 10 or 15 years later.”
“Andy was down doing one of our Memphis wrestling TV shows the day that he told me that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. He was coughing through an interview that he was doing and afterwards he apologized and said, ‘Man, I just got diagnosed with lung cancer.’ I thought at the time, I said, ‘Oh my gosh, here we go.’ I said, ‘Andy, come on,’ and he said, ‘I’m serious.’ So I always had that little bit of a doubt.”
That doubt only grew after Kaufman’s funeral, which he said was closed casket and only attended by close family. “That always made me a little skeptical as well.”
“One of the main things he talked about was the best prank or scam he could pull would be to fake his own death,” said Lawler.
“Somebody asked me, ‘What if Andy walked up to you today, what would you say to him?’ And I said I’d give him a big hug and say, “Andy you did it. You pulled it off.’ ”
Jimmy Hart announced that Andy had cancer. The fans in the studio either don’t believe it or are happy about it. Jimmy says that King gave Andy cancer. In addition to Lawler, Andy also fought with and against The Assassins, who both wore lucha libre masks.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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??