Mostly Credited As: Andy Kaufman
Sometimes Credited As: Tony Clifton
Birth Name: Andrew Geoffrey Kaufman
Date Of Birth: January 17, 1949 (Age 35)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: New York City, New York
Date Of Death: May 16, 1984
Cause Of Death: Lung Cancer in Los Angeles, California
Height: 6' (1.82 m)
Andy Kaufman was born in 1949 in New York City, and lived in Great Neck, Long Island for much of his childhood. Andy had dreamed of being a performer since he was a child, and performed at birthday parties and other small venues for many years starting when he was eight. While attending college, Andy began performing stand-up comedy locally and was eventually spotted by "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels. Andy appeared on the inaugural broadcast of the show in 1975.
Following his stint on SNL, Andy was hired to play the part of Latka Gravas, on the television show "Taxi" in 1978. The part of Latka was modeled after one of Andy's stand-up characters, "Foreign Man," but was later expanded to showcase Andy's comedic talents.
Andy's off-beat sense of humor was loved my many, and equally reviled by many others. His bits included the "Foreign Man," an Elvis Presley impersonation, reading "The Great Gatsby" in its entirety, and performing as small time Vegas lounge singer Tony Clifton.
Andy vehemiently denied that he and Clifton were the same person, and would sometimes appear in public at the same time, courtesy of his brother Michael or long time friend Bob Zmuda. At Andy's request, Clifton was hired as a guest star on Taxi, but was thrown from the studio after throwing a tantrum. After his performance at Carnegie Hall in 1979, Andy took the audience out for milk and cookies. Andy also dabbled with wrestling, and from 1979 to 1983, he was the undefeated "Inter-gender Wrestling Champion."
After the end of "Taxi," Andy appeared on the NBC variety show "Fridays," during one of his appearances, he incited a brawl between himself, Michael Richards, and several crew members. In 1984, Andy passed away due to lung cancer, though many still speculate that he has faked his own death. Andy had once said that if he were to fake his own death, that he would return 20 years later, a date which has since passed.