Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Comedian Andy Kaufman has returned, twenty years after faking his death.
Example: [PRWeb, 2004]
Origins: One would be hard-pressed to think of any other entertainer who sowed as much doubt about his true character than comedian Andy Kaufman did in the 1970s and 1980s. He adopted multiple personas and stayed in character even when he was off-stage. He performed as other people. Or he had other people perform as him. Or maybe he was performing as other people pretending to be him. He staged tantrums and altercations so convincingly that audiences were left wondering whether his
But the end did come — on
The 20th anniversary of Kaufman's death has provided the occasion for some "Andy Kaufman is alive!" rumors, fueled primarily by a blog and a
The "celebrity-died-young actually faked his own death to drop out of the public eye" rumor has long since been milked for all its worth. Every decade sees it applied to at least one prominent
(Note that the putative Andy Kaufman blog now disclaims that, contrary to details provided in the press release, he was not interviewed by ABC, and the alleged DNA testing was not conducted by the auditing firm of
The supposed recent photographs of Andy (appearing as Tony Clifton, his abusive lounge singer character) displayed in the blog were taken from a
"The hoax and the practical joke are lost art forms." But did Andy Kaufman pull one last stunt on his deathbed at age 35? No, says Zmuda. "Andy Kaufman is dead. He’s not in some truck stop with Elvis." While Kaufman tinkered with the idea, tells Zmuda, he never brought it up again.If the real Andy Kaufman were back, his story would be picked up by every major news service in the U.S. and a good many abroad, not merely a single "anybody can submit a story" free publicity service. And if the real Andy Kaufman genuinely wanted to demonstrate he was still alive, just one public appearance would serve that purpose far more convincingly than an unverifiable DNA test. Most important, if the Andy Kaufman I remember — the brilliant, unpredictable, erratic, and unique comic genius — had finally emerged from hiding twenty years after faking his own death, I have no doubts that he'd find a much more imaginative way of revealing his return than a free press release and a rather ordinary blog.
P.S. With the money
Last updated: 30 October 2007
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