Did Andy Kaufman fake his own death? According to the legendary comedian's brother and a woman claiming to be his daughter, he did.
The Comic's Comic reports that Kaufman's brother Michael took the stage at the annual Andy Kaufman Awards at New York City's Gotham Comedy Club this week and told the crowd that his brother is still alive and has a 24-year-old daughter.
Kaufman died of cancer in 1984 at the age of 35 and is buried on Long Island. His television credits included Taxi and Saturday Night Live, but he was also known for carrying out long-running hoaxes and elaborate practical jokes. In many of his routines and on-screen tantrums, it was unclear whether his outbursts were real or whether he was playing a part.
Michael Kaufman reportedly told the crowd that when he was cleaning out his brother's things after his supposed death, he came across an elaborate plan for how Kaufman was going to fake his death and reappear on Christmas Eve in 1999 at a specific restaurant. Michael said he went to the restaurant on that date, and a waiter gave him a letter from Andy in which the comedian said he had fallen in love, gone into hiding, and had a daughter in 1989. In the letter, Andy allegedly asked Michael to keep his secret as long as their father was still alive.
After their father died this summer, Michael said he got a call from a 24-year-old woman claiming to be Andy's daughter, and she said that he was indeed still alive. The woman also appeared on stage at the awards ceremony Monday, The Comic's Comic reports. The pair suggest Kauffman faked his death in order to escape the spotlight.
UPDATED: Michael Kaufman backpedaled on the claims in a brief interview with The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, after reports surfaced on The Smoking Gun and Defamer claiming that the woman purporting to be Andy Kaufman's daughter is actually a 23-year-old actress based in New York named Alexandra Tatarsky whom Michael Kaufman recruited to play his niece.
"I think I've been misquoted," Kaufman told THR. "I never came out with, 'He's alive.' I'm as skeptical as anybody else. ... This is so, like, out of my league what's going on here."
Watch video of the woman claiming to be Andy Kaufman's daughter at the Andy Kaufman Awards below. Do you believe her and Michael Kaufman's story?