As is the case with any public figure who’s been immortalized in a Jim Carrey movie, people love the idea that Andy Kaufman, perhaps the world’s greatest prankster, faked his own death from cancer in 1984 and has been living among us all along, and will one day jump out of the president’s birthday cake shouting “Ta da!!” That’s what we in the business call “the long con.”
On Monday night at the Andy Kaufman Awards at the Gotham Comedy Club, Andy Kaufman’s brother, Michael Kaufman, fed that speculation by telling a Dan Brown-worthy story of how, with his death, Andy had pranked the world yet again, and even produced a 24-year-old he said was Andy’s daughter. The math majors amongst you may have already noted that Andy Kaufman was generally believed to have died 29 years ago.
The Comic’s Comic was present:
Michael Kaufman told the audience that while cleaning out Andy’s things after his death in 1984, he found among his many writings an essay about how Andy planned to fake his own death, his literal, figurative and spiritual leaps through meditation, and how he’d eventually reappear on Christmas Eve on 1999 at a particular restaurant that had served him a favored dish years earlier. When that date arrived, Michael said he ventured to the restaurant, asked for a table under one of Andy’s pseudonyms, and waited. He didn’t meet Andy that night, but said someone handed him an envelope, and in that envelope was a letter addressed to Michael from his brother. The letter purported that Andy wanted to go into hiding and live a normal life, that he’d met and fallen in love with a woman and had a daughter, and that he didn’t want Michael or anyone to say anything while their own father was still alive. Andy’s and Michael’s father died this summer. Michael said a young woman called him a month afterward to say that Andy indeed was alive, that he was watching the Andy Kaufman Awards from afar and loving the fact that so many comedians had been inspired by him. When Michael asked the Gotham audience if that young woman had showed up Monday night, a 24-year-old eventually stood up from the back of the room and sheepishly made her way onstage.
Michael asked the audience if they believed her, or him, and said he didn’t know what to make of it all himself.
Pretty great story, right? And there’s video of some of Michael Kaufman and Andy Kaufman’s daughter’s Q & A:
Now, if you want to believe, you should probably just stop reading here.
Because The Smoking Gun has uncovered that “Andy Kaufman’s daughter” is a New York actress named Alexandra Tatarsky, whose father is a Manhattan doctor.
According to a source familiar with this week’s Kaufman stunt, Tatarsky met Michael Kaufman earlier this year while working at a Manhattan gallery exhibiting a collection of Kaufman “ephemera and artifacts” from the comedian’s personal and professional life.
Tatarsky was recruited by Michael Kaufman to play the role of Andy Kaufman’s daughter. The comedian, who died of lung cancer in 1984, had one daughter (who was born in 1969).
Tatarsky did not respond to a voicemail message left on her cell phone. Her actual father, Andrew, is a 58-year-old psychologist specializing in substance abuse treatment.
Whatever, that sounds EXACTLY like the kind of cover profession Andy Kaufman would choose. And OF COURSE he’d probably choose some random obscure place where he could lay low and people wouldn’t recognize him, like Manhattan. I bet it was a dead giveaway when Andy told those drunks and pillheads to find their higher power and it always turned out to be Mighty Mouse.
Andy Kaufman is the white man’s Tupac.