Update: The Smoking Gun reports the alleged “daughter” of Andy Kaufman is actually a New York City actress named Alexandra Tatarsky, who met Andy’s brother Michael Kaufman during a showcase of the actor’s memorabilia at a Manhattan gallery. Her real father is psychologist.
Original story: Did Andy Kaufman really pull off the greatest hoax in history?
If you believe a woman claiming to be the legendary entertainer’s daughter, Kaufman faked his own death from lung cancer in 1984 and has lived a reclusive life as a stay-at-home father.
TMZ obtained video shot Monday at the 9th Annual Andy Kaufman Awards, which were hosted by Andy’s brother, Michael Kaufman. During his closing speech, Michael was approach by an unnamed woman claiming to be Andy’s 24-year-old daughter, alleging that she only learned the former “Taxi” star’s true identity after the death of Michael and Andy’s father earlier this year.
“I’m not trying to prove anything, you know,” she said to Michael. “He told me this because he was really sad about his dad and it’s very strange for me, too, because I never got to meet him, I never got to meet you. It would make you my uncle.”
Michael later replied, “He sent you here. Does he have a message?”
“Well, he didn’t tell me specifically to impart anything, but I just know that he’s so excited about this,” the woman said nervously. “I didn’t know that he watched all the stuff on YouTube, because he hid everything from us on the Internet. But then when we had a million, billion discussions because it was really crazy – he did say how much he cares about the Awards. I don’t know how much longer he can keep everything away.”
“Did he almost come this year?” Michael questioned.
“Well, he was really, really, really thinking about it,” she replied, adding later. “Something in him needs to come out. Of course, getting to know this new part of my dad and stuff, I think, I don’t know, that would be fun.”
The circumstances surrounding Andy Kaufman’s death – or lack thereof – has been a hotly contested issue for nearly 30 years. One of Hollywood’s most innovative entertainers, and a notorious trickster who once staged a woman’s death on stage at Carnegie Hall and engaged in an epic faux feud with pro-wrestling legend Jerry “The King” Lawler, Kaufman allegedly told his closest friends that he wanted to fake his own death.
The Internet has helped perpetuate rumors of Kaufman’s death hoax with supposed photos and videos of the comedy icon popping up every couple of years. However, the Web has also helped squash these reports with easy access to seemingly ironclad evidence to the contrary, such as Andy’s death certificate.
“He just wanted to be a stay-at-home dad. That’s why he wanted to leave the show biz,” the woman told an audience member who questioned what Andy’s been up to. “So, he’s just pretty much a great dad and raised us. And my mom has her own business and stuff like that, and then he helps her with that kind of thing, paper work and stuff, so he can work from home and he doesn’t have to be hiding out, concealing himself. He just makes us food and takes care of the house.”
Before she left the stage, Michael hugged the woman “just in case” she was his niece, and asked that nobody in the audience follow her.
“Let her have her privacy,” he said. “Thank you. Thank Andy. Send him my love.”
Is this woman telling an unbelievable truth, or is the Kaufman family pranking the world on behalf of their dearly departed showman? Hoax or not, one thing is certain – Andy would have loved it.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.