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Andy Kaufman

Born: 1949-01-17 - Died: 1984-01-17
Cause of Death:
Kidney Failure

Death Summary: Kaufman died in a hospital of kidney failure, due to large cell carcinoma.

Who was Andy Kaufman : Andy Kaufman was an American entertainer, and actor, but never wanted to be labeled as a comedian. He wasn't a big fan of jokes, and throughout his career challenged the traditional avenues of comedy. His resume rangers from stand-up routines, to movies, television, wrestling, and legendary on-air gags.

Andy Kaufman was born in New York City, the son of a middle-class Jewish family. He began entertaining at the age of nine, and went on to graduate from a two-year junior college. Afterwards, he began to perform stand-up comedy at clubs along the eastern coast of the US.

During his time performing stand-up, Kaufman created some of the bits he became known for. Perhaps his most famous was playing the theme from Might Mouse and lip-synching the line "Here I come to save the day". This was also the time when he created "Foreign Man". This character was from the fictional nation Caspiar, and would be what brought Kaufman into the limelight.

Though he didn't like sitcoms, Kaufman joined the cast of the show Taxi. Here is where Kaufman's career really took off. ABC was so impressed with Andy's character that they wrote him specifically into the show as Latka Gravas. He appeared in 79 of the 114 episodes, and was a crowd favorite. During his time on Taxi, Kaufman would still do live performances. His Latka character grew to be such a fan favorite, the crowd would demand it from him. In response to these kinds of crowds, Kaufman would simply read The Great Gatsby. As crowds would dwindle, he asked if they would rather listen to a record instead. When he put it on, it would be him continuing to read The Great Gatsby from where he left off.

Along with Foreign Man, Kaufman created a character named Tony Clifton. This character was a fictional lounge singer who would abuse his audiences. The gig Kaufman kept going was he insisted that he wasn't Tony Clifton, and went to great lengths to do so. He made it a requirement that Tony Clifton would receive a guest spot on Taxi, as a real person. During rehearsals, Clifton had an outburst and was thrown off set. The local papers reported the act being committed by Clifton and Kaufman was allowed to stay on. Which was the plan the whole time, and really took Clifton's mysterious status to a whole new level. To keep the gag going, sometimes Clifton would be portrayed by his brother or long time friend Bob Zmuda.

Following his Taxi run, and stint on Saturday Night Live, Kaufman became interested in professional wrestling. Since Kaufman didn't have the stature to face male wrestlers, he came up with the gimmick that he would wrestle women. He tried to sell the idea to WWF owner Vince McMahon Sr., but he turned it down saying it was too gimmicky. So Kaufman went to the southern wrestling circuits, where he created the Inter-Gender Championship. He also offered $1,000 to any woman who could pin him. He eventually was tangled in a feud with Jerry "The King" Lawler. Their feud became so popular, the they both appeared on Late Night with David Letterman where they had an on-air fight. Lawler performed the piledriver move on Kaufman which gave him a real life neck injury. He would keep the injury going longer than necessary, and kept up his fictional feud with Lawler going. Many at the time believed it to be a real rivalry, though years later it was revealed the whole thing was cooked up between Kaufman and Lawler.

Kaufman never married, though he did have a daughter with a high school girlfriend which would be put up for adoption. She would eventually discover this after Kaufman's death. He practiced Transcendental Medicine, and is reported to practice yoga every day. Kaufman was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer, and would spread to his brain. After his death, many believed it all to be a hoax and Kaufman was faking his death. This isn't the case, and his death certificate is on file with the LA Count Department of Health Services.
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6 Signatures in Andy Kaufman's guestbook

  1. Ron Says:

    Tank you berry much!!!!!

  2. Jewy jewerstienbergski Says:

    Talentless Jew

  3. BRUCE Says:

    Andy, Thank You.

  4. Idi Amin Dada Says:


  5. Frank Says:

    You not funny

  6. Lisa Weiner Says:

    To Andy Kaufman,
    I thought you were a great actor. You did a wonderful job as Latka in the sitcom Taxi. God bless you Mr. Kaufman, Lisa Weiner

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