Ron Jeremy

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

Various Girlfriends

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In February 1981, Kaufman hosted Fridays, a sketch comedy show like SNL.
He invited singer Kathie Sullivan on stage to sing a few gospel songs with him.

Kathie Sullivan
He announced that the two were engaged to be married, and that he was converting religion.
Throughout the next few months, he arranged many public outings with her.
This was also a hoax. 

The 2 carat engagement ring he gave to Sullivan
The 2 carat engagement ring

Andy was friends with Ron Jeremy (porn star), Hugh Hefner (Playboy), and Dennis Hof (Bunny Ranch Brothel).
He allegedly slept with all the 42 girls at the Mustang Ranch Brothel.

Playboy or Hopeless Romantic?
Womanizing Playboy or Hopeless Romantic?

Zmuda says that Andy preferred bigger, muscular girls who were more equipped for wrestling.
He also speculates that it satisfied Andy’s gay fantasies. Andy’s last girlfriend also said he was bisexual.

Mimi was featured in his promo against Lawler
Andy’s Wrestling Promo
Mimi wrestled Andy on SNL
Mimi wrestled Andy on SNL

Toward the end of his career, Andy started wrestling women in the south.
He dated Mimi Lambert, the Florida woman he wrestled on Saturday Night Live.

“If I do go ahead with my plan, I will do so by pretending to have cancer,” Andy said to her and others.

It was informally called the “National College Sex Concert Tour” by his partner, Bob.
He offered between 500 to 1000 dollars, as well as his hand in marriage, to any woman who could pin him.

'Andy Kaufman: I Hate Your Guts!' is available on Amazon.
‘Andy Kaufman: I Hate Your Guts!’ is available on Amazon.

Female wrestler Deena Zarra is reported to have pinned Andy during the Carnegie Hall show.

Wrestler Deena Zarra
Wrestler Deena Zarra

Playmate Susan Smith
Playmate Susan Smith

He wrestled Playboy playmate Susan Smith and mud wrestler Robin Kelly (Red Snapper).

Red Snapper aka Ruby Tuesday
Red Snapper aka Ruby Tuesday

Ronnie Sigmond
Ronnie and Andy in the mud

He beat five women, then lost to Ronnie Sigmond during a non-title bout held at Chippendale’s in Los Angeles.

Teaneck Tanzi Promo: Debbie Harry (Blondie) wrestling Andy
Teaneck Tanzi Promo: Debbie Harry (Blondie) wrestling Andy

Journalists Margaret McMullan and Cindy Flanagan Lamb said they beat (and dated) him too.

Margaret McMullan (author):

Andy went on dates with Glamour editor Margaret McMullan in late 1983 while he was staying with his parents because his mother was ill.

“He challenged me to a wrestling match. Not on stage, but privately, backstage, behind the bleachers, not in front of anyone. I pinned him midway. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t difficult either. I straddled him, holding him by his wrists for a long time. He asked if the recorder was still on. I said yes. He reached over and turned it off. He said I had to promise I wouldn’t tell anyone about this.”

So ferocious!
So ferocious!

“He looked pale. He kept coughing. He said he didn’t want to meet anyone and he stuck his head inside my over-sized bag.”

“He said he had come by to take me to tea. He said he had a cold and a cough and he was fasting. He said he was purifying himself. A yogi in LA taught him to fast flues out. But he could have tea.”

“He said then that he was going somewhere, on a trip, to the Philippines perhaps, and that I should go with him. He looked me in the eye as he spoke.”

“Was the illness or the treatment wreaking havoc on his moods? Not long after tea with Andy, I read in Page Six that he beat up a photographer, or was it a fan? His anger came quickly and out of nowhere, I could see that.”

Still undefeated
World Intergender Wrestling Champion: Still “Undefeated”

Elayne Boosler (comedian):

Andy dated Elayne in his early days of stand-up at The Improv in New York. He later brought her onto his television special, where they got in an argument about their past that seemed real in parts, but was obviously staged.

“Andy was amused that so many people took the news of his illness as just another Kaufman put-on. I asked him to tell me that it was. Men. They never tell you what you want to hear.”

“Andy never gave up hope. He didn’t intend to die. Near the end he took to sleeping with his eyes open just to make sure. When death came, early in the twilight of a warm Los Angeles evening, it was met with two unflinching eyes. When the nurse tried to close them, they just opened again. I remembered a reviewers words: ‘This guy doesn’t know when to get off.’ I laughed.”

Elayne and Andy in Coney Island
Elayne and Andy in Coney Island

Laurie Anderson (musical satirist who later married Lou Reed) once dated and collaborated with Kaufman in the late 70s and has mentioned him in her spoken word poetry and songs.

“We used to go out to Coney Island to work on stuff. I was his straight man, and I used to tag along with him because I adored him. I was just a major fan. So we would go out to the ‘Test Your Strength’ booth and we would stand around and just make fun of everyone who was doing it. I was supposed to beg him for a stuffed bear. And after a while, people would get sick of his taunting and say, ‘Well, why don’t you try it?’ And he tried it and hit, like, level one of 20. And then he would start complaining, ‘This is rigged. I want to see the manager!’ It was really very funny.”

“I have never been one that hoped that Elvis is still hanging around somewhere, hiding, but I will probably always expect to see Andy reappear, someday.

Laurie Anderson blazing her own trail
Laurie Anderson blazing her own trail

He dated Elizabeth Wolynski (photographer in Las Vegas) for a while. She took the portrait of Andy in the hooded sweatshirt. This print was given as a prize for the Andy Kaufman Award 2013, when the “daughter” hoax occurred.

Wolynski’s Blog and Photos

Her story about Kaufman meeting Andy Warhol, Woody Allen, and Salvador Dali.

Andy took her to Coney Island as well
They went to Coney Island also

Andy fathered a child with Gloria Acre (Schwartz) when he was in college.
Andy and his parents proposed a shotgun marriage, but the Acres were not pleased.
The infant, Maria Colonna, was given for adoption shortly after birth.
She later reconnected with the Kaufman family, but after Andy’s passing.

Maria Bellu-Colonna
Maria Bellu-Colonna and her deadbeat dad

Gloria Jean Schwartz Obituary:

It was reported that Andy continued having relations with Gloria all throughout his career.

It was also suggested that he was seeing his assistant Linda Mitchell. He stayed at her apartment often.

Beverly Bloomberg (Cholakian)
Beverly Bloomberg

Bev Cholakian (Bloomberg) is Andy’s unrequited love from Detroit,” Zmuda says. “She didn’t, couldn’t put up with his philandering.”

She got him the job at Posh Bagel. Beverly would remember, “Andy went beserk and screamed, ‘How could you do that to me! I could have gotten laid!’ I mean, can you believe that? He had never talked to me like that before. So I ran to the back of the deli and locked myself in a room while he kept screaming. Then we saw him drive off in a rage, swerving and screeching like a madman.” And, of course, they mended again, for a while again, since she wanted to marry him and all.) Bev later worked as a screenwriter and actor, and is now an author. 

Kathy Utman
Kathy Utman

Kathy Utman–she was a roommate of Prudence Farrow’s–and her spritely air and small mellifluous voice enchanted him completely. He had never met such a blissful being–even among all of the other blissful ones. Diminutive, childlike, she seemed to sprinkle love petals wherever she stepped; he often compared her to a pixie named Piccoli from some story he knew–“He said I was like this little fairytale pixie person who came to earth and her job was to make people love each other more and to especially teach all the little boys how to love,” she would recall, giggling. He also said that she reminded him of Little Eva from Uncle Tom’s Cabin and sent her the book with all of the Little Eva parts marked up. He wrote her fanciful, delirious letters–signed them I could just eat you up or MBFUA!!! (“He said that was the sound of a kiss.”) She was a cloud; she loved him back like a cloud might love, couldn’t fully commit because she knew he couldn’t either really–“I was a little bit careful,” she said. But they would play together–when on park lawns he insisted they run in slow motion toward each other with open arms flapping–and she would come to New York early on to see his act at the Bitter End et al. and they maintained an understanding that she, as a cloud, would sweetly hover nearby throughout his life, which she in fact did, more or less, even when she married other guys and in between those marriages as well.

“He always said we would live together when we were old.
He also said that he heard bells whenever he stood near me.”

Andy dated artist/actress Lynne Margulies (Osgood) during the last two years of his life. They had an open relationship.
She accompanied him to the Philippines for his psychic surgery cancer treatment by Jun Labo

Lynne Margulies

“When we moved into the house in Pacific Palisades in 1984, Andy suggested we get married. I told him we should wait until he got better.” – Lynne

Andy and Lynne in Baguio
Andy and Lynne in Baguio

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, 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.