For one brief, thrilling moment this week, the Internet was abuzz with hopes, however heavily caveated, that Andy Kaufman might still be alive despite his official death from cancer in 1984. Then it turned out the woman that his brother presented as Andy's 24-year-old daughter was, in fact, an actress — the death hoax was a hoax. Now Michael Kaufman says the hoax was on him.
In a November 14 interview with CNN, Andy's brother said, "Now that it's Thursday, not Monday anymore, I believe I am part of a hoax." Asked flat-out whether he believes he's a victim of a hoax, Michael Kaufman said, "Correct," denying he was involved. Of the woman he introduced as his niece, he said: "I don't believe she's acting on her own, though. But, you know, that's all I know."
The Smoking Gun had reported that the woman, who is named as Alexandra Tatarsky, met with Michael Kaufman earlier in 2013. According to the report, they were at a New York gallery when he enlisted her for the role of Andy's daughter. Michael Kaufman told CNN, "That is not true." No word yet from Tatarsky or her father, reportedly a 58-year-old psychologist.
During the ninth annual Andy Kaufman Awards at New York's Gotham Comedy Club on November 11, Michael Kaufman also said he received a letter purportedly from his brother in 1999. That's when he had promised to reappear according to papers Michael says he found after the comedian's death. Per Michael, the letter said Andy was still alive but in hiding, living with a wife and daughter. CNN didn't ask Michael about this letter in the video available online.
Andy Kaufman had brought up faking his own death frequently, and rumors the comedian — the subject of R.E.M.'s "Man on the Moon" and the Jim Carrey film of the same title — was still alive have periodically surfaced over the years. This time, the Los Angeles County Coroner went to the great lengths of reissuing Andy's death certificate. Michael Kaufman and Kaufman's manger, George Shapiro, both told CNN they saw Andy die. Andy's girlfriend, Lynne Margulies, told TMZ she, too, saw Andy die. "They would have had to switch bodies," Margulies said.
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