The Case for Giving Andy Kaufman a Rest

Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Publicity Stunts, The History of Pranks, The World of the Prank

It’s 30 years later and Bob Zmuda, writing partner of the legendary prankster Andy Kaufman, won’t let his friend continue his quiet rendezvous with Elvis. Washington Post writer, Amy Argetsinger, ponders whether stoking decades-old rumors that Kaufman faked his death discredits the man and the astounding pranks he pulled while he was among us.

“Andy Kaufman: Why It’s Time to Celebrate the Comic and Bury the Death Hoax”
by Amy Argetsinger
Washington Post
October 9, 2014

Here we go again.

Thirty years after Andy Kaufman died too young of cancer “” cutting short a brief, sensational career that changed the face of American comedy, and maybe even American irony “” the old Andy Kaufman death-hoax theory is back.

It”™s new and improved for the Internet era, going viral now that the ragtag community of Andy Truthers has been joined by a credentialed ally, Kaufman”™s longtime writing partner Bob Zmuda. In a new book co-authored by Kaufman”™s girlfriend Lynne Margulies, Zmuda recalls years of conversations in which his friend outlined plans to exit show business by faking his own death.

“He said to keep a lid on it for 30 years,” says Zmuda in a phone interview. “It”™s 30 years now. . . . What I”™m doing is sending a telegram to Andy: It”™s time to come in from the cold.”

Oh, please. Zmuda”™s theory (“it”™s not a theory!”) is so absurd, so off-putting we don”™t mind telling him so.

But Zmuda, 64, a man with a quick laugh and unstoppable line of banter, isn”™t hurt. Call his ideas in “Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally,” preposterous, tasteless, hurtful to Kaufman”™s family, a shameless money-grab whose tenuous logic is undercut by his own past statements and testimony in his own book “” he”™s got calm answers for all of this. The only thing that shocks him is that we”™re shocked.

“When he died,” Zmuda says (in one of several split-second slip-ups), “85 percent of the population believed he had faked his death.” He adds later: “Go back to 1984. No one could believe he was dead.”

He”™s got a point. Read the rest of the story here.