Andy Kaufman. You may remember him as Latka Gravas from Taxi (Tank you, vedy, vedy much). You may remember his bizarre and brilliant performances from SNL. You may remember him wrestling pro wrestlers and women. The performance art (and it was performance art as much or even more than comedy) came to an end when he died in 1984 at the age of 35. Or did he?

The question of Andy Kaufman’s death (or life) came to the fore earlier this week when Andy Kaufman’s brother, Michael, read a letter at a comedy club, purporting to be from Andy and introduced a 24 year old woman as Andy’s daughter. Michael claimed that a parking lot attendant had handed him the letter in 1999 and was only making it public now after their father’s death, as Andy had asked.

The letter read it part: “It was too much pressure to be Andy Kaufman. I just wanted to be Andy…. I think that’s why I got sick. I had to change completely and quickly. I’m extremely very happily married with the most wonderful wife in the whole wide world and with the two greatest kids: a 10-year-old daughter and a son who is 8.”

The Smoking Gun website reported that the woman’s real name is Alexandra Tatarsky and that she’s an actress that Michael recruited to play the role of Andy Kaufman’s daughter.

Now, here’s where it starts to get really interesting. In an odd and rambling interview Michael Kaufman yesterday claimed to be the victim of a hoax in an interview with CNN’s Jake Teper. Then, the Los Angeles County coroner re-released a copy of the death certificate.

What distinguishes from the typical celebrity hoax is that it reads just like an Andy Kaufman stunt. Andy Kaufman had often joked about faking his own death, while he was alive. Without missing a beat, Andy’s one-time pro-wrestling nemesis Jerry “The King” Lawler said that the two could certainly rekindle their feud, if Andy proved to be alive.

The bottom is that appears that Andy Kaufman is still dead. But the fact that he managed to pull this one off from beyond the grave, or at least had us thinking about it with the help of social media is a tribute to his creativity. It’s pretty difficult to retain that level of creativity almost 30 years after your death.

 

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