A mysterious woman's claims that she is the daughter of Andy Kaufman have helped to revive long-standing rumors -- fueled in life by Kaufman himself -- that the comedian may have faked his own death.
The far-fetched admission, reported first by The Comic's Comic and Defamer, occurred Monday night at the Andy Kaufman Awards, held annually at the Gotham Comedy Club. The woman was introduced by Michael Kaufman, Andy's brother, who first explained how years ago he'd discovered an essay in which Andy detailed plans to fake his death. Official records state the Taxi star died in 1984 at age 35, of lung cancer. (See a copy of his death certificatehere.) Were he alive today, Kaufman would be 64 years old.
"I witnessed the entire thing and I can tell you without a doubt this was not a prank," says Al Parinello, a lifelong friend of the comedian who produces the awards. Parinello relayed toThe Hollywood Reporter how Michael, whom he describes as "accountant-like" in demeanor and not prone to mounting hoaxes, followed instructions in the essay to meet his brother at a specific restaurant on Christmas Eve, 1999.
Michael did so, he said, whereupon a man he did not know walked up to him and handed him a typed letter. The letter, which Michael read for the crowd on Monday night, was allegedly from Andy, who wrote that "everything was great in his life and he just wanted to get away from being Andy Kaufman," Parinello says. The letter also stated that the comedian, famous for his bizarre alter-egos like cantankerous lounge singer Tony Clifton, had fallen in love with a woman and that the couple were raising a daughter together.
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