Rumors of a faked death have been just as much a part of Andy Kaufman's legacy as watching him turn from Foreign Man to Elvis, but if what played out at this week's Andy Kaufman Awards in New York City are actually true, the comedic genius may have pulled off his biggest hoax of all: not just faking his own death, but secretly spending the last 29 years raising a family.
Sean McCarthy from The Comic's Comic was at the closing night of the 9th Annual Andy Kaufman Awards and reports back an incident that's sure to reignite the rumors that Kaufman—known for his elaborate pranks and performance art—is actually alive and well, and did pull off the faked death hoax he was known to be fixated upon. During the closing ceremony, Kaufman's brother Michael took the stage during the closing ceremonies to once again address the rumors that his brother had not passed away from lung cancer in 1984, but was actually alive, and living in obscurity.
Michael shared a story of finding his brother's elaborate plans to fake his own death after Andy had passed on, along with a note that he would reappear on Christmas Eve 1999 at his favorite restaurant. Michael went to the restaurant, and though Andy never showed, a letter was handed to him that explained that Andy had gone into hiding to live a normal life and now had a wife and daughter—but didn't want anyone to find out while the Kaufmans' father Stanley was still alive.
Stanley, who established the Andy Kaufman Awards nine years ago to recognize upcoming talent in the spirit of Andy (previous winners include Kristen Schaal and Reggie Watts), passed away this summer. According to Michael, a month afterwards, a 24-year old woman came forward to him, claiming that Andy had not died 29 years prior, was still very much alive, and quite grateful that the awards recognized young people who had been inspired by his work. The young woman, who was never named, came to the stage, though McCarthy doesn't report her sharing any sort of story. Michael then asked the audience to respect her privacy, while claiming that he honestly didn't know what to believe.
While this immediately sounds like the type of prank Kaufman would have loved to pull off, especially posthumously, some attendees of the show swear it didn't seem like a prank. One finalist, Kelly Dwyer, shared on her Facebook page:
Ok. Tonight was a mindfuck. Anyone who was there will attest. Andy Kaufman's daughter came onstage and claimed he was alive. It was. It was...I can't tell you how it was, only that it was as real as any reality that i've seen. and yeah. I get that it is - could - might all be a hoax. That was the only and last thing I want to say. it was fucking fucked up. She said he is alive and that the passing of his father this July made him want to reach out via her- to Michael, Andy's brother. She said he is watching the award entries, semi and finalists with great interest always. He just wanted to disappear. To be a father. To be an observer. As much as this seems like bullshit as I type it, it was as real as anything I've ever seen. There is video. It was chilling, upsetting and absolutely intriguing. I bawled my eyes out. The entire room was freaked out. It was, if nothing else, brilliant. and incredibly mindfuckng and AWESOME.
According to The Comic's Comic, other attendees report that the girl is a theater student, though no one can confirm or deny if that automatically makes the entire tale the latest step in a three-decade long prank.