Michael Kaufman

About

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dots
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.”


carrey

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!

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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??

Parinello, Al

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Al Parinello at an Andy Kaufman Memorial event
Al Parinello at an Andy Kaufman Memorial event

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.”

Lawler, Jerry

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Jerry Lawler just before punching Andy on the infamous Late Show interview
Jerry Lawler just before punching Andy on the infamous Late Show interview

“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.”

This is when the neck brace began.
This is when the neck brace began.

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.

Trollin'

TROLLIN’

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??

Kaufman, Andy

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Uncle Andy's Funhouse
Uncle Andy’s Funhouse

The funeral took place on May 19, 1984, three days after his death.
Services were at the Nassau Funeral Home in Great Neck, NY (his hometown)
Wrestler “Classy” Freddy Blassie sat front row, at Andy’s request.
Many of his friends chose not to attend, expecting another prank.
He is buried in Section One-4 of Beth David cemetery in Elmont, NY.

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 twenty years.

Four years before he announced his illness, he wrote a screenplay where his character dies of cancer in Cedars Sinai Hospital and comes back later.
The Tony Clifton Story Script

Andy wrote his “last will and testament” on the eve of his 13th birthday, and again backstage the Letterman Show in 1982. Robert Morton, Barry Sand, and Sandra Farton witnessed the signing.

After his diagnosis, Andy told manager Shapiro that he wanted to go on Letterman one more time. When he would be asked what he got for Christmas, Andy planned to respond, “Cancer.” Andy died before he had this opportunity.

Initially, the comedian began joking that he was going to lie about dying because he ate too much chocolate, but he later changed his mind and pretended to be dead for cancer. “Maybe I’ll just stick with cancer,” he was quoted as saying.

Then, he decided to stick with cancer and when he started coughing repeatedly, Zmuda told him “Stop with the coughing already – I think it’s a dead giveaway,” to which Andy Kaufman answered, “I don’t know. Everyone seems to believe it.”

In November 1983 (six months before death), Andy appeared as quack Dr. Vinnie Boombatz on the Rodney Dangerfield Special. His character smoked, and there was a gag about a casket being moved, with the body left behind.

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.

In 2004, to keep his name and legacy vibrant, [the family] instituted The Andy Kaufman Award for promising comedians. And in 2010, they signed with CMG Worldwide, which, among other things, got the website andykaufman.com, which Universal had set up for “Man on the Moon,” for the estate.

Grandma Pearl was the one who really piqued his interest in sports by taking Andy to pro wrestling matches at Madison Square Garden and the Commack Arena. Watching “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers, Killer Kowalski and Bruno Sammartino.

She would also take him to Coney Island and into the city, where Andy stood in front of Hubert’s Museum and Flea Circus, a freak show in Times Square, and marveled at “Turko the Half Man.”

Andy graduated from high school in 1967 and received a 4-F deferment (“paranoid schizophrenic with psychotic tendencies”) from the military draft after failing the psychological portion of the test.
Lynne Margulies, Andy’s last girlfriend, said that he was one of the most mentally healthy people she has known.

She recently revealed that Andy was bisexual.
His writer, Bob Zmuda says Andy preferred bigger, muscular girls who were more equipped for wrestling.
He also speculates that satisfied his gay fantasies. Some people in the Castro District think Andy died of AIDS.

Andy allegedly slept with all the 42 girls at the Mustang Ranch Brothel. He was also friends with Ron Jeremy (porn star), Hugh Hefner (Playboy), and Dennis Hof (Bunny Ranch Brothel). Hof gave free “dates” for everyone with a ticket stub to the Dead or Alive show. Hof later named one of the rooms at his bordello after Kaufman.

An anonymous prostitute from the Mustang Ranch told Zmuda that Andy was an “ass bandit” who was bi. She also reported that the other sex workers would gossip about how he always wanted the girls to lay flat on their stomachs, motionless, as to resemble a young man.

“If Bob Zmuda says Andy Kaufman is dead — and he does — then I believe him.” – Joe Conforte (Mustang Ranch)

Andy loved bombing. He always kept face. He was raised on kay fabe and carnival.

Andy hired cops to bust up his gigs.

His alter-ego Tony Clifton, the sleazy Vegas lounge singer, (sometimes performed by Zmuda or Andy’s brother Michael) was escorted out of Taxi rehearsal by studio security.


He played homeless outside his Carnegie Hall show holding “Andy Kaufman=Antichrist” sign. Michael performed as Tony Clifton for that event.

Kaufman appeared alongside the singer Deborah Harry in the ill-fated Broadway play Teaneck Tanzi: The Venus Flytrap, which closed after only two performances in April 1983.

Andy told no less than FIFTEEN people that he planned to fake his death.

Many more friends think he could have, and would have.