Blog Posts

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.” (more…)

A Rough Week for Celebrities: Recap

Filed under: Creative Activism, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Publicity Stunts

This week, a major Hollywood star faces repercussions for a public stunt, while another remains with us despite a death hoax.


via Flickr

The satirical website caused a brief scare with a pun about beloved actress Betty White “dyeing.” In light of the very real passing of comedian Joan Rivers, the goof caused understandable alarm.

from NBC 5 San Diego

from NBC 5 San Diego

Meanwhile, Steve-O, a star of the Jackass franchise, is facing criminal charges for defacing a sign directing Southern California motorists to Sea World. With the horrifying scandals that have lately surrounded the aquatic amusement park, Sea World must be particularly sensitive about its reputation.

Celebrity Death Hoaxfest

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, The History of Pranks, Urban Legends

From David Emery’s Urban Legends, June 30, 2009:

Celebrity Death Hoaxes Abound

art.spears.200It was a bumpy weekend for the rich and famous, with the entertainment industry mourning the loss of three pop culture icons even as the Internet churned out one hoax after another declaring more celebrities dead.

The hoaxfest was triggered by mid-week announcements confirming that Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson had died. By Thursday afternoon the Internet was rife with false reports claiming that actors Jeff Goldblum and Harrison Ford had died as well. Death announcements for Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Ellen DeGeneres, Louie Anderson, P. Diddy, Natalie Portman, George Clooney, and Rick Astley “” all bogus “” followed in quick succession.

Pranksters used a variety of tactics to promulgate the rumors, including generating fake news stories on the Web, vandalizing Wikipedia pages, and hacking celebrities’ Twitter accounts. Despite their rapid dissemination, all were debunked in fairly short order. (more…)