Why do people think Andy Kaufman is still alive?

Why do people think Andy Kaufman is still alive?
Trailer: Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond

Andy Kaufman died at the age of 35 in 1984, leaving behind a legacy as one of the most unique performers in the history of US comedy.

Only, there’s plenty of people out there who believe he’s still alive.

There’s been a long standing conspiracy theory out there in the years since his death, which claims that the cult comedian actually faked his death.

Now, the theory rearing its head again due to events in the world of professional wrestling.

Almost 40 years after his death, Kaufman is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame 2023 as a way of remembering his feud with Jerry 'The King' Lawler.

During his career, Kaufman had a long-standing public rivalry with the wrestler. The pair regularly clashed on talk shows, while things reached a head when Lawler slapped Kaufman on Late Night With David Letterman. It was later revealed that the whole thing had been planned between the pair.

Sign up to our new free Indy100 weekly newsletter

The ‘feud’ originally came about after Kaufman called himself the “World Intergender Wrestling Champion” as part of his act which saw him wrestling women.

Kaufman is being honoured this week with the induction into the hall of fame on March 31 in Los Angeles. The fact that he’s being recognised is seeing some return to the conspiracy theory that he is still alive.

Some Kaufman fans believe he is still aliveSNL

Kaufman's death came as a result of lung cancer diagnosis in 1983 and the theories persist despite the fact that his death certificate can be seen online.

For some, though, the fact that Kaufman was known as an eccentric performance artist who engaged in large-scale pranks has led to the theory persisting throughout the years.

The strangest moment of them all came in 2013.

Back then, Andy’s brother Michael Kaufman made an appearance at an awards show named his honour. There, he claimed that he'd received a letter from his brother claiming Andy was alive back in 1999.

Michael also said that years before he had discovered an essay from Andy that documented his plans to fake his own death. The event then saw him introduce a woman he claimed was Andy’s daughter – only, the fact she was 24 years of age would have meant she was born five years after he had died.

Jerry Lawler Slaps Andy Kaufman | Lettermanwww.youtube.com

Speaking at the event in New York, the woman said: "He just wanted to be a stay-at-home dad, that's why he wanted to leave the showbiz.

"He's pretty much a great dad, and raised us. My mom has her own business... He helps her with that kind of thing, paperwork and stuff, so he can work from home and he doesn't have to be hiding out [or] concealing himself. He just makes us food and takes care of the house."

Some believe the incident to be a stunt, and website The Smoking Gun reported at the time that Alexandra Tatarsky was approached by Michael Kaufman before the event to play his alleged niece.

Producer of the awards, Al Parinello, spoke to the Hollywood Reporter and claimed that he didn’t believe it to be a stunt.

"I witnessed the entire thing and I can tell you without a doubt this was not a prank," he said. "You could see by the look on [Michael's] face that it had an emotional impact on him," said Ed Cavanagh, manager at the Gotham Comedy Club, where the award show took place… I don't know whether somebody is perpetrating something on [Michael] or not. I'm truly 50-50 on this one."

Still, all these years alter, some will swear by the conspiracy theory.

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)