Andy Kaufman, Alive?

Andy Kaufman once promised that he’d stage his own death and return twenty years later. YahooNews has published a press release claiming this to be true:

Andy Kaufman Returns After 20 Years

Twenty years ago, on May 16, 1984, most of the world believed that we had lost a comedic legend forever. This has turned out to be what will inevitably be known as the greatest comic prank ever conceived. Andy Kaufman, by all accounts, is alive and well at age 55 and is now living in New York City on the upper west side. To his loyal supporters and fans, Andy says “sorry about faking my death,” in a recent interview with ABC News at his apartment. In order to reach legendary comic status and seal his place in the history of performance art, he said it was “necessary to go away for twenty years.”

Andy Kaufman’s official site has been launched at:

Even though he has technically returned, Andy says that he plans to maintain his low key lifestyle that he has led for the past twenty years. He has resumed contact with friends and family. Fearing the possibility of this scenario and the potential for another hoax, Kaufman’s family has contracted with independent auditors Ernst & Young to determine if this in fact the real Andy Kaufman. He has subjected himself to medical examination and submitted DNA, hair, blood and fingerprint samples to the auditors. Ernst & Young and the Kaufman family report that with a 99% probability, this is indeed the real Andy Kaufman. His mother says, “It’s good to have Andy back.”

In 1999, a new crop of Kaufman fans were born after Jim Carrey starred in the hit film Man on the Moon. “Andy’s bizarre mix of comedy and performance art will inspire fans and comedians alike for generations, especially after this stunt,” says Jim Carrey.

Andy says he will make only occasional public appearances, sometimes in disguise so that you won?t know if it?s really him or someone else. Kaufman was famous for pulling this stunt with the Tony Clifton character, sometimes played by good friend Bob Zmuda.

Andy says fans should tune into his website for ongoing updates to his adventures in life. As always, Andy’s stage has been the world, testing the boundaries of our beliefs, our sources of information, and our perception of reality. “It’s good to be back,” Andy writes on his website.

I’m quite skeptical of this report and, frankly, don’t see much funny about this even if it turned out to have been a stunt.

Hat tip: Jeff Quinton (via Suburban Kelley)

Update: Wikipedia has the backstory on this urban legend and has been updated to deal with the “Andy’s alive” rumor.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Moe Lane says:

    You’d think that they’d check with his wife, or something (he was married, right?)…

  2. Paul says:

    It should be noted that while it is on Yahoo news, it is a PRESS RELEASE not a Yahoo news story.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Paul: Right. That’s noted in the second line of the post. Although I’m not sure why they’d publish an undigested press release.

  4. Jeff says:

    Yahoo picks up press releases from prnewswire and prweb and has them in that specific section on their site.

    eMediaWire, which distributed the release initially (prweb got it from them) has pulled it from their site and put a “dispute hold” on it as I noted in my post.

  5. Paul says:

    duh, sorry James, I must be suffering from Ireadtoofastacitis. I knew it was unlike you not to note that.

    But to answer your question they get paid to run those.. You would run it too. 😉

  6. Exek says:

    Snopes Saids this story is False