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Andy Kaufman Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (49) | Personal Quotes (9)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 17 January 1949New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 16 May 1984Los Angeles, California, USA  (lung cancer)
Birth NameAndrew Geoffrey Kaufman
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Referred to by some as a dadaistic comedian, Andy Kaufman took comedy and performance art to the edges of irrationality and blurred the dividing line between reality and imagination. Born in New York City on January 17, 1949, the first son of Stanley and Janice Kaufman, Andy grew up on New York in the town of Great Neck. He began performing for family and friends at the age of 7, and by the time he was 9 was being hired to entertain at children's parties. After a year at a Boston junior college, Andy began performing his unique brand of stand-up comedy at coffee shops and nightclubs on the east coast. Discovered by Improvisation comedy club owner Bud Friedman, Andy quickly earned a reputation as a talented, yet eccentric performer. Impressed by his abilities, Lorne Michaels asked Kaufman to appear on the inaugural broadcast of Saturday Night Live (October 11, 1975). Best known for his work as Latka Gravas on the TV sitcom Taxi, Andy appeared in several TV shows and movies, on Broadway, did a one man show at Carnegie Hall, enjoyed a brief professional wrestling career and performed in concerts nation-wide.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: B.K. Momchilov

Trade Mark (2)

Usually played an unnamed character called Foreign Man, who soon evolved into Latka Gravis, the guy from Taxi. Likes to play with the audience's heads like reading The Great Gatsby instead of performing. Doesn't like to break character, even when he's not filming.
His character Tony Clifton

Trivia (49)

Taxi (1978) co-star Jeff Conaway decked him after the 1979 Golden Globes, when he insulted his co-stars.
Graduated from Great Neck North High School in 1967.
Attended Boston's Grahm Junior College.
Saturday Night Live (1975) viewers voted him off the show forever in a call-in poll in 1982.
Daughter, Maria Colonna, was born when Andy was 20, and his girlfriend was 17.
Maria was put up for adoption, but later reunited with Kaufman's family, after tracing her biological parents in 1992.
Of all Elvis Presley impersonators, he was the REAL Elvis' favorite.
R.E.M. wrote a song about him for their 1992 album "Automatic for the People" called "Man on the Moon".
According to Jim Carrey as stated in A Comedy Salute to Andy Kaufman (1995), Kaufman created and originally played the "Tony Clifton" character. The secret kept for 15 years (according to Carrey) was that he did so only briefly and the character was soon passed off to Bob Zmuda (Kaufman's writer). Most of the TV appearances of Tony Clifton are actually Zmuda, not Kaufman.
Interred at Beth David Cemetery, Elmont (Long Island), New York, USA.
Kaufman was renowned for bizarre stunts that were part of his stage performances, such as the time he took his entire Carnegie Hall audience out for milk and cookies, via 35 waiting buses.
Museum of TV and Radio presented 90-minute film of Kaufman highlights to honor him posthumously in New York and L.A. in October 1999.
Although he died of lung cancer, he led a very healthy lifestyle. He didn't drink regularly and was a vegetarian. Although he had smoked when he was younger, he hadn't done so in years; even when doing his Tony Clifton character, he never inhaled the smoke.
Along with his writing partner Bob Zmuda, he wrote "The Tony Clifton Story", a full-length feature film about the adventures of his alter-ego Tony Clifton. However after his movie Heartbeeps (1981) tanked at the box office, it was scrapped by the studios.
When trying to bring his wrestling women act into the world of mainstream pro wrestling, Kaufman wanted to wrestle at Madison Square Garden for the World Wrestling Federation, but his good friend Bill Apter, a head editor for several wrestling magazines, told him that Vincent McMahon would never go for such a thing, so they tried to talk to Apter's friend Jerry Lawler, which led to Andy's infamous feud with Lawler from 1982-1983.
Many people doubted Kaufman's death, thinking it was just another gag.
Kaufman and Jerry Lawler's famous feud, including their infamous Late Night with David Letterman (1982) appearance, was all later confirmed by Lawler to be a setup and not real as many believed.
Lip-synched the "Mighty Mouse" theme on the first episode of Saturday Night Live (1975).
Shared the same birthday with Jim Carrey, who plays him in the film Man on the Moon (1999).
Was piledriven twice by Jerry Lawler
Despite having his neck broken by Jerry Lawler's Piledriver, he still won the match they had (the Piledriver was illegal where they were wrestling, so Lawler had gotten disqualified, giving Kaufman the win).
Had one granddaughter, Brittany Colonna, who played his younger sister as a child in Man on the Moon (1999).
Diagnosed with a rare, large-cell, carcinoma lung cancer on December 11, 1983.
Was the subject of the song "Andy Kaufman" by punk band The Bunkers.
According to wrestler Jerry Lawler, when they cleaned out Andy's house after his death, many uncashed checks from Mid-South Wrestling promoter Jerry Jarrett were found. These were given as payment for his stint as a wrestler, and made many conclude that he didn't wrestle for the money, but rather for the love of it.
Was once a contestant on The Dating Game (1965).
His style of entertainment is now known as "performance art."
His Tony Clifton character was supposed to appear on the Christmas episode of Taxi (1978) as Louie De Palma's brother, but "Tony" repeatedly pushed everyone's buttons and slowed down production until he was replaced (much to Andy's delight).
He was the original creator of the format TV show Andy's Funhouse (1979) which has later re-vamped by Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman) into Pee-wee's Playhouse (1986). Reubens got permission from Kaufman himself right before his death.
Before Andy Kaufman, there was no real way to describe what he did. Now it has been coined as "performance art" and many people imitate his style of "entertainment."
On the DVD "Best of R.E.M., The" (2003), Kaufman appears on the videos "The Great Beyond" (originally released in 1999), and "Man On The Moon" (originally released in 1992).
The video "The Great Beyond", which originally featured clips of Jim Carrey performing as Kaufman in the movie Man on the Moon (1999), was modified on the DVD "Best of R.E.M., The" (2003) by clips of the original Andy Kaufman.
Was working on a novel loosely based on his life that weaves in and out of reality titled The Huey Williams Story but had to stop because of his illness.
He was such a hardcore Elvis Presley fan that he drove into a town that had an Elvis movie playing, with a TV set, so that he could plug in the set somewhere to see the movie on television!.
One of his most famous performances was on the 1975 summer replacement show Van Dyke and Company (1976), hosted by Dick Van Dyke. As his "Foreign Man", he did two very poor celebrity impressions, and then broke into a dead solid perfect impression of Elvis Presley. After the audience gave him thunderous applause, he replied, in his "Foreign Man" voice, "Thenk yew veddy much!" The audience went into hysterics.
He once joked about faking his own death and returning 20 years later. In 2004 several of his friends threw a "Welcome back Andy" party. He didn't show up.
Was the world's very first inter-gender wrestling champ. Had a perfect undefeated track record and took home the belt.
During the height of his Taxi (1978) fame, he worked part-time at "The world famous Jerry's Deli" on Ventura Blvd. in Los Angeles as a busboy just to stay grounded.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 441-442. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
He once skipped a photo shoot for TV Guide with the Taxi (1978) cast to see a The Three Stooges midnight showing with good friend E.M. Fredric.
Scored a zero on the psychological portion of his Army entrance test, thereby classifying him as ineligible for military service.
To play up the feud between himself and wrestler Jerry Lawler, Kaufman did several public service announcements in which he proceeded to teach Southern people how to bathe, brush their teeth, and so on.
Despite their publicized, but fake, feud, Kaufman was actually a great admirer of Jerry Lawler.
Often read from the the book "The Great Gatsby" at performances. But, unlike the movie, never made it further than the second page of the first chapter.
Son of Stanley Kaufman.
Wrestled Playboy playmate Susan Smith in a match for the intergender championship of the world" belt. Although Smith clearly bested Kaufman in this fierce bout, he was nonetheless declared the winner. There was a pictorial of this match in the February 1982 issue of "Playboy".
In 1980, Andy wrestled stunt woman Marian Green in a playful mud wrestling bout at Chippendales in Los Angeles.
Laid to rest at Beth David Cemetery (Elmont, Long Island, NY).
Andy's Army, a group of friends and family of Andy Kaufman, helped induct him into the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame by using #AK4WWEHOF2014 in various forums, pod-casts, blogs and tweets to WWE. It was a surprise for everyone when a Tony Clifton Flashmob suddenly showed up and wrestled Jerry Lawler, Royal Rumble-style.

Personal Quotes (9)

There's no way to describe what I do. It's just me.
There's no drama like wrestling.
Pure entertainment is not an egotistical lady singing boring songs onstage for two hours and people in tuxes clapping whether they like it or not. It's the real performers on the street who can hold people's attention and keep them from walking away.
Whenever I play a role, whether it's good or bad, an evil person or nice person, I believe in being a purist and going all the way with the role. If I'm going to be a villainous wrestler, I believe in going all the way with it and not breaking character and not giving away to the audience that I'm playing a role. I believe in playing it straight to the hilt.
They say, "Oh wow, Andy Kaufman, he's a really funny guy." But I'm not trying to be funny. I just want to play with their heads.
While all the other kids were out playing ball and stuff, I used to stay in my room and imagine that there was a camera in the wall. And I used to really believe that I was putting on a television show and that it was going out to somewhere in the world.
What's real? What's not? That's what I do in my act, test how other people deal with reality.
I never told a joke in my life.
I just want real reactions. I want people to laugh from the gut, be sad from the gut, or get angry from the gut.

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