By all accounts, comedian and royal prankster Andy Kaufman died from lung cancer in 1984. Since then, numerous people have come forward with theories about a morbid hoax, claiming Kaufman was obsessed with faking his own death. The Taxi star apparently told those close to him that after the prank, he would return 20 years later, which would have been in 2004. Andy didn’t rise from the grave that year, but the hoax rumors live on.
The tale came to life again at the ninth annual Andy Kaufman Awards Monday night at New York’s Gotham Comedy Club. Michael Kaufman, Andy’s brother, revealed he didn’t actually know if Andy was alive or dead, and shared a story that stunned audiences. He claimed that in 1984, he was going through Andy’s belongings and discovered an essay the comedian wrote about faking his own death. In the letter, Michael said Andy claimed he would reappear at a restaurant on Christmas Eve in 1999. Michael indicated that he showed up at the location, but did not see his brother. He was, however, handed a letter from a stranger written by Andy. In it, Kaufman expressed a desire to live a normal life and that he’d met a woman, fallen in love and had a daughter. He told Michael that he didn’t want anyone to say anything while their father was still alive. When Andy and Michael’s dad, Stanley, passed away last summer, Michael indicated he received a call from a woman who claimed Andy was alive and well, and proudly watching the Andy Kaufman Awards from afar. Michael asked the Gotham Comedy Club crowd if that woman was there on Monday evening — and this is when things get extra weird.
A 24-year-old woman walked up to the stage and claimed to be Andy Kaufman’s daughter. Andy Kaufman Awards finalist Killy Dwyer talked about the bizarre moment on Facebook:
“Ok. Tonight was a mindf--k. Anyone who was there will attest. Andy Kaufman's daughter came onstage and claimed he was alive. It was. It was... I can't tell you how it was, only that it was as real as any reality that i've seen. and yeah. I get that it is - could - might all be a hoax. That was the only and last thing I want to say. it was f--king f--ked up. She said he is alive and that the passing of his father this July made him want to reach out via her- to Michael, Andy's brother. She said he is watching the award entries, semi and finalists with great interest always. He just wanted to disappear. To be a father. To be an observer. As much as this seems like bulls--t as I type it, it was as real as anything I've ever seen. There is video. It was chilling, upsetting and absolutely intriguing. I bawled my eyes out. The entire room was freaked out. It was, if nothing else, brilliant. and incredibly mindf--kng and AWESOME.”
Gotham’s showroom manager Ed Cavanagh told press the event wasn’t a hoax, claiming “without a doubt this was not a prank.” Photos of New York City theater artist Alexandra Tatarsky (who is pictured above at the Awards show) bear a striking resemblance to the woman claiming to be Kaufman’s daughter, but no one has confirmed that this is the same woman yet. They look awfully similar, though.
Is Andy alive or still buried in New York’s Beth David Cemetery? The rumors may never rest, but Kaufman’s legacy is assured — and we think he’d be tickled either way, knowing that he’s still getting people to talk all these years later. Watch a clip from the surreal event, and let us know if you're buying this woman's story.
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