Anatomy of a Hoax: Andy Kaufman's 'Daughter' Explained
Andy Kaufman in 1981 -- three years before he died from lung cancer. (AP Photo)
On Sunday at the Andy Kaufman Award Show at the Gotham Comedy Club in Manhattan, a woman claiming to be the funnyman's 24-year-old daughter told the audience her dad faked his death to escape the spotlight and became a stay-at-home father for her and her siblings. The fidgety woman appeared with Andy's brother, Michael, on stage and told the crowd that her dad was considering showing up that night, but changed his mind.
Michael seemed to corroborate the story. He talked about how, while going through his brother's possessions after his death, he found essays about how Andy planned to fake his own death, and would eventually reappear. On the date in 1999 when Andy was supposed to materialize, Michael said a stranger handed him a letter, which was supposedly from Andy, saying he wasn't ready to come out of hiding because he had fallen in love, started a family, and he liked his new quiet life.
Because of all the conspiracy theories regarding the death of the "Saturday Night Live" and "Taxi" star, who lost his battle with lung cancer in 1984 when he was 35, the story quickly grew legs and was all over the Internet on Monday. However, it turns out it's a prank even the quirky comic himself would admire.
Andy's girlfriend Lynne Margulies, pictured here in 2004, said she was with him when he died. (Getty Images)
"I was in the hospital room. I was there. They would have had to switch bodies," she told TMZ.
Margulies, who suggests Michael is behind the prank, also said Andy had just one daughter — her name is Maria Bellu-Colonna. (The girl was born in 1969 to Andy's high school girlfriend and was subsequently put up for adoption. In 1992, after Andy's death, Maria learned the identity of her birth father.)
George Shapiro, who was Andy's manager, was also there when Andy passed away.