In what may be the least surprising development of the week, Andy Kaufman's brother Michael, who appeared onstage in New York on Monday with a woman claiming to be the late comedian's daughter, now claims he is the victim of a hoax.
Rumors that Kaufman staged his own demise and was now a family man living under an assumed identity, possibly in Albuquerque, have stubbornly persisted since the "Taxi" star succumbed to kidney failure related to a rare form of lung cancer in 1984. The conspiracy theory lit up the Internet this week after a young woman came forward at the Andy Kaufman Awards claiming the comedian is still alive and that she is his daughter.
As recently as Thursday morning, the surviving Kaufman was receptive to the idea that his brother might still be alive (or was at least pretending to be). Then the website the Smoking Gun reported that Andy Kaufman's "daughter" is actually a New York actress named Alexandra Tatarsky recruited by Michael after meeting at an exhibit earlier this year. The Los Angeles County coroner also re-released Kaufman's death certificate, saying in a statement, "He is dead."
On Thursday afternoon, Michael Kaufman appeared on CNN's "The Lead With Jake Tapper," where he denied conspiring with Tatarsky and said he was the victim of an elaborate stunt.
"Now that it's Thursday, not Monday anymore, I believe I am part of a hoax," he said, adding that he thought Tatarsky was not the lone gunman (so to speak). "I don't believe she's acting on her own, though. But, you know, that's all I know."
As have others, Tapper suggested that the whole incident was staged as "bizarre homage" to Andy Kaufman's work, which often blurred the line between comedy and performance art, and said he found it "difficult to believe" that Michael Kaufman wasn't somehow involved in the ruse.
'The legacy's he's leaving behind is beautiful, regardless of what is the truth with all this," Michael Kaufman said.