This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. January Main article: Tony Clifton Another well-known Kaufman character is Tony Clifton, an absurd, audience-abusing lounge singer who began opening for Kaufman at comedy clubs and eventually even performed concerts on his own around the country.
Sometimes it was Kaufman performing as Clifton, sometimes it was his brother Michael or Zmuda. For a brief time, it was unclear to some that Clifton was not a real person.
News programs interviewed Clifton as Kaufman's opening act, with the mood turning ugly whenever Kaufman's name came up. Kaufman, Clifton insisted, was attempting to ruin Clifton's "good name" in order to make money and become famous.
As a requirement for Kaufman's accepting the offer to star on Taxi, he insisted that Clifton be hired for a guest role on the show as if he were a real person, not a character. Much to Kaufman's delight, this incident was reported in the local newspapers. At the end of the show, she stood up, took her mask off and revealed to the audience that she was actually comedian Robin Williams in disguise. He invited anyone interested to meet him on the Staten Island Ferry the next morning, where the show continued.
He came up with Andy's Funhouse, based on an old routine he had developed while in junior college. The special was taped in but did not air until August The segment was just over six minutes long and was called Uncle Andy's Funhouse. It featured Kaufman as the host of a children's show for adults, complete with a peanut gallery and Tony Clifton puppet. It too featured a peanut gallery, and opened in the middle of an interview Kaufman is doing in which he is laughing hysterically.
He then proceeds to thank the audience for watching and the credits roll. In his first appearance, during a sketch about four people out on a dinner date who excuse themselves to the restroom to smoke marijuana , Kaufman broke character and refused to say his lines. Co-producer Jack Burns stormed onto the stage, leading to a brawl on camera before the show abruptly cut away to a commercial.
Later that year, Kaufman returned to host Fridays. At one point in the show, he invited a Lawrence Welk Show gospel and standards singer, Kathie Sullivan , on stage to sing a few gospel songs with him and announced that the two were engaged to be married, then talked to the audience about his newfound faith in Jesus Kaufman was Jewish. That was also a hoax. Instead of introducing the band, he delivered a nervous speech about the harmfulness of drugs while the band stood behind him ready to play.
After his speech, he informed the audience that he had talked for too long and had to go to a commercial. Jim Carrey , who revealed the secret, later went on to play Kaufman in the film Man on the Moon. In a interview with the Memphis Flyer, Lawler said he had improvised during their first match and the Letterman incident. Although officials at St.
Sometimes, Lawler detailed how they came up with the angle and kept it quiet. Even though Kaufman's injury was legitimate, the pair exaggerated it. He also said that Kaufman's furious tirade and performance on Letterman was Kaufman's own idea, including when Lawler slapped Kaufman out of his chair.
Promoter Jerry Jarrett later recalled that for two years, he would mail Kaufman payments comparable to what other main-event wrestlers were getting at the time, but Kaufman never deposited the checks. The film was a parody of the art film My Dinner with Andre.
Lynne Margulies, sister of the film's director, Johnny Legend , appears in it, and became romantically involved with Kaufman. In , Kaufman became a playable character in the video game Legends of Wrestling II and a standard character in 's Showdown: In , Jakks Pacific produced for their WWE Classic Superstars toy line an action figure two-pack of Kaufman and Lawler, as well as a separate figures release for each of them.
After he angered the audience with his female-wrestling routine, Kaufman in January made a pretaped appearance his 16th asking the audience if he should ever appear on the show again, saying he would honor their decision. Keep that in mind when you call. I don't want to have to punch nobody in America in the face", and Mary Gross read the Dump Andy number at a rate so fast that audiences were unable to catch it.
The final tally was read by Gary Kroeger to a cheering audience. One of these performances included getting on a ride that people stand in and get spun around. After everyone was strapped in, Kaufman would start saying how he did not want to be on the ride in a panicked tone and eventually cry.
Anderson later described these performances in her album, The Ugly One with the Jewels. His daughter, Maria Bellu-Colonna born , was the child of an out-of-wedlock relationship with a high-school girlfriend and was placed for adoption. She soon reunited with her mother, grandfather, uncle, and aunt. For the rest of his life, Kaufman meditated and performed yoga three hours a day. January Learn how and when to remove this template message At Thanksgiving dinner on Long Island in November , several family members openly expressed worry about Kaufman's persistent coughing.
He claimed that he had been coughing for nearly a month, visited his doctor, and been told that nothing was wrong. When he returned to Los Angeles, he consulted another physician, then checked himself into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for a series of medical tests.
A few days later, he was diagnosed with large-cell carcinoma , an extremely rare type of lung cancer. After audiences were shocked by his gaunt appearance during January performances, Kaufman acknowledged that he had an unspecified illness which he hoped to cure with natural medicine , including a diet of all fruits and vegetables, among other measures. Kaufman received palliative radiotherapy , but by then the cancer had spread from his lungs to his brain. His final public appearance was at the premiere of My Breakfast With Blassie in March , where he appeared thin and had a partially shaved head.
Kaufman's official website states that his death was not a hoax. The Truth, Finally, a book claiming that Kaufman's death was indeed a prank, and that he would soon be revealing himself as his upper limit on the "prank" was 30 years.
This special featured clips of many of Kaufman's performances, as well as commentary from some of his friends, family, and colleagues. Because he did it first. So did Buster Keaton , so did Andy. Did Andy influence comedy? Because nobody's doing what he did. Jim Carrey was influenced—not to do what Andy did, but to follow his own drummer. I think Andy did that for a lot of people. Follow your own drumbeat. You didn't have to go up there and say 'take my wife, please.
It gave people freedom to be themselves. Forman named his twin sons, born in , Andrew and James, after Kaufman and Carrey. My Book of Autism Heroes. A Storied Life, to him. The club also features on their menu the "Andy Kaufman Special", which consists of "two cookies and a glass of ice cold milk".