The Death of Andy Kaufman

Andy Kaufman
January 17, 1949 – May 16, 1984
“I never told a joke in mylife.”

Lorne Michaels asked Kaufman to appear on the inaugural broadcast of SaturdayNight Live (October 11, 1975), but he is best known for his work asLatka Gravas on the TV sitcom Taxi.

By 1983, Andy was living in the Pacific Palisades. Hishouse was located on LombardAvenue.

Andy was having a Thanksgiving holiday in 1983, with his family, back in LongIsland. He had a persistent cough that annoyed everyone, or worried them. He hadrecently had a check-up, and everything was fine, then. A few weeks later, thecough still hadn’t gone away, and he went for another batch of tests.Surprise! They found that this non-smoker, non-drug user, non-serious drinkerhad lung cancer, and was given only 3 months to live.

Andy’s mother had recently been diagnosed with bone cancer and had astroke, so Andy tried to downplay the illness, not mentioning it to a lot ofpeople. Because Andy was always pushing people’s buttons, the people he didtell, didn’t believe him. You see – two or three years before he died, Andytold his best friend that he was considering faking his death from cancer atCedars. He told the producers of Fridays that he was thinking about it,and how it would be cool to come back 10 years later.

Andy tried several forms of therapy. Chemo, etc and even went to thePhilippines withhis girlfriend, 

for psychic healing by some guy called Labo. 

Upon his return to the US, his condition deteriorated.

AUGUST 2001 friend Jhuebnersends this in:  I looked at the photo
of the Phillipino nurse, Andy, and his girlfriend and I noticed that yes, his head is bald from the chemo… However…

From personal experience as a 4 yr survivor of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma & chemo (which also killed Jackie Onassis, King Hussein of Jordan, andrecently Joey Ramone) I can attest that if you lose the hair on your head, you are also going to lose chest hair, eyebrows, pubic hair (justhad to add that) essentially the full nine yards. (Wanna add to the rumor mill about Andy’s vitality in 2001?)

I believe he is dead. Perhaps he had chemo after the visit with the miracle doc and shaved his head for reasons only Andy knows. After all,he was quite unique. Keep up the great work.

Interesting!  Thanks for that.

He spent his final days at Cedars Sinai, wide-awake and aware. Five monthsafter being diagnosed, Andy Kaufman died at 6:27 p.m. on May 16, 1984. 

He was 35years old. Cancer at Cedars. 

David Letterman was taping a show, and upon hearingthe news of Andy’s death, he ended it with the remarks, “He certainly wasunique, and we’re going to miss him.”

On May 18th, there was a funeral held in Great Neck. 300 mournersattended the open casket service. A lot of people still thought Andy was doing aput on, so they would poke his body when no one was looking. Because Andy was afirm follower of Transcendental Meditation, there are those that believe thatAndy could have been lying there in his casket, not breathing, but alive.Supposedly, everyone from the show Taxi hated Andy, and didn’tshow up to the funeral.

Andy is buried in the Beth David Cemetery, in Elmont, New York.

People still think Andy will come back. That movie sort of contributed to allof that. I haven’t seen it, and know nothing about it. I did see a documentaryabout him recently, and all that female wrestling bs he used to do. God hebugged me. I guess that was his charm.

AUGUST 2001 friend Becca sends this in: “Being the Andy Kaufman fanatic that I am…I was wondering if maybe you’d include one of my little favorite pieces of trivia about Andy regarding his death in 1984…

In Bill Zeheme’s book, “Lost In The Funhouse” it talks about how Andy died in CedarsSinai  hospital, and when he died…it was with his eyes open. The nurse tried to close them, but after doing so…they came open again! You may not have been a fan of Andy, Scott…but yougot to give him this much! The man could keep the crowd guessing, even in death!

Great fact, Becca. Thanks!

This just in, January 2003, from friendKen from Brooklyn:

Andy Kaufman went on David Letterman’s Show soon afterAlbert Goldman published his Lennon book and ranted about Goldman. He said”Mr. Goldman, I’m alive. Face and confront people who can defendthemselves”. Letterman had to practically push Andy off the stage. HopeGoldman doesn’t decide to write about Andy!

Great info, Ken, thanks!

UPDATE February 2006, from Findadeath friend JK:

Scott, one thing I noticed right away when seeing the Andy Kaufman pics in the Phillipines with that “psychic” guy Labo.


The captions state he is removing cancerous tissue from Mr. Kaufman.  It is well known now that this is a con tactic used by some people to cheat them out of their money.  Usually a bowl of chicken parts are hidden and the “doctor” actually shows these parts to the “patient”.  Other cons similar to this are eggs that are spoiled eggs that when cracked open, only after the “mark” has given over money of theirs that is deemed “evil”.  The egg appears all black and rotten.  And the con states this is the evil that came out of the money.  Then the mark is told that the “psychic” will have to get rid of the money for them to ensure it does not cast any of its left over evil powers on the mark.

 It is sad to say that it appears Andy Kaufman was the victim of his own hope and a deceitful con artist.  While he was getting “treatment” from this guy, he could have better used the time to get actual treatment that may have slowed and maybe halted his cancer.  Instead it progressed while he was in the Phillipines.  That’s probably why it came on so fast and strong once he arrived back in the states.

Thanks, JK!

I thank friends of Rebecca Mennel and T. Weier for the text,and Terri Rios and Adam Carter and Beca again, for the photographs. I thank youfor your input, and appreciate it.

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