There has been a long-running myth that actor and comedy legend Andy Kaufman is still alive. The popular comedian rose to fame in the late 1970s playing Latka Gravas on “Taxi,” became a Golden Globe-nominated actor famous for roles in films like “God Told Me To” and “Heartbeeps”, and made frequent guest appearances on late-night talk shows as well as “Saturday Night Live.” In the 1980s, Kaufman even became involved in professional wrestling, gaining attention by primarily challenging and wrestling women, a gig which exemplified his signature comedic style of over-the-top — and often offensive — gags, exaggerations, and long-running jokes, per Mental Floss.
Sadly, Kaufman passed away in May of 1984 due to lung cancer when he was just 35 years old. But some fans, as well as close friends and family of the star, say they wouldn’t be surprised if he was really still alive. In fact, his own brother, Michael, claimed in 2013 that he found a letter written by the comedian that detailed exactly how he would fake his own death and get away with it. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kaufman claimed that “everything was great in his life and he just wanted to get away from being Andy Kaufman.” His longtime friend and writing partner Bob Zmuda made similar assertions, saying that Kaufman’s fake death was his greatest prank, per Celebrity Net Worth.
Andy Kaufman started the rumors that he had faked his own death
The conspiracy theory was actually started by Kaufman himself long before his death. Kaufman was a performance artist who dealt in the absurd and often performed elaborate pranks and ruses while cultivating alternate onstage identities. He also claimed that faking one’s own death would be the ultimate hoax. Per The New Yorker, Kaufman used his art to allude to the idea of faking his death and disappearing for years, only to reemerge again onstage years later — perhaps under a different persona. And for a unique performance artist known for thriving by making audiences uncomfortable and pushing jokes well past their normal limit, some felt it wasn’t an entirely outlandish theory.
At the time of his alleged death, Kaufman was worth an estimated $3 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. While that may have been enough money to escape and start a new life under a different identity, no one claiming to be the real Andy Kaufman has ever come forward in the 37 years since his death. If he really was still alive today, Kaufman would be 72 years old, so if the theory were true, one might think that it is high time for Kaufman to come forward and expose his long-running prank to the world.
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