Andy Kaufman

Actor, Comedian, Busboy
A comic genius well ahead of his time, Andy Kaufman pushed the envelope in a series of performance pieces that challenged the very idea of the entertainer-audience relationship, while also confounding a public unsure ... Read more »
Born: 01/17/1949 in New York City, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (15)

100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

The Comedy Store's 20th Birthday 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

My Breakfast With Blassie 1984 (Movie)

(Actor)

Taxi 1978 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

Heartbeeps 1981 (Movie)

Val (Actor)

A Johnny Cash Christmas 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

In God We Trust 1980 (Movie)

Armageddon T Thunderbird (Actor)

Cher and Other Fantasies 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

The Lisa Hartman Show 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

Saturday Night Live 1975 - 1977 (Tv Show)

Actor

Van Dyke and Company 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Actor

God Told Me To 1976 (Movie)

Police Assassin (Actor)

Stick Around (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

A comic genius well ahead of his time, Andy Kaufman pushed the envelope in a series of performance pieces that challenged the very idea of the entertainer-audience relationship, while also confounding a public unsure whether or not his gags were reality or fiction. In fact, Kaufman possessed a rare courage and discipline to stay completely in character, regardless of the outcry elicited by his seemingly erratic behavior. Meanwhile, he made a name for himself on the comedy circuits of New York and Los Angeles, eliciting nervous laughter as the high-talking Foreign Man who often transformed into a dead-on impression of Elvis Presley, or singing the theme to "Mighty Mouse" after standing around in nervous silence, or reading from The Great Gatsby until audience members stormed out. Having first entered America's living rooms via "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ), Kaufman's Foreign Man was transformed into Latka Gravas on the hit sitcom "Taxi" (ABC/NBC, 1978-1983), where he emerged as one of the show's most beloved stars. Subsequent antics ensued, most notably his famed Carnegie Hall performance after which he took the entire audience out for milk and cookies. He also starred on "The Andy Kaufman Show" (1980), while marking numerous appearances on late night programs, including multiple stops on "Late Night with David Letterman" (NBC, 1982-1993). Though he incurred the wrath of feminists by wrestling women while hurling misogynist invective, Kaufman nonetheless maintained his strange ability to keep audiences guessing as to where the performer ended and the real Andy Kaufman began. Though some believed he was pulling yet another prank when he revealed he had cancer, Kaufman was finally being real with his fans. Although he died young, the comic left behind an indelible legacy as a bold and provocative performer the likes of which the world would probably not see again.

Relationships

Janice Kaufman

Mother

Elayne Boosler

Companion
first met in 1973 had brief romance, then remained friends

Maria Colonna

Daughter
born in 1969 given up for adoption mother was Kaufman's high school sweetheart married to Joey Colonna

Brittany Colonna

Granddaughter
appeared as Andy's sister in the film "Man on the Moon"

Stanley Kaufman

Father

Michael Kaufman

Brother
born c. 1951

Carol Kaufman

Sister
born c. 1957

Lynn Margulies

Companion
met in 1982 together until his death in 1984 made a film about his wrestling career, "I'm from Hollywood" also served as an editor for "My Breakfast with Blassie"

Kathie Sullivan

Companion
announced engagement in 1981 later separated

EDUCATION

Grahm Junior College

Boston , Massachusetts
wrote, produced, directed and starred in the campus TV show "Uncle Andy's Funhouse"

Great Neck North High School

Great Neck , New York 1967
fellow classmate was director-producer Jon Avnet

Milestones

1998

Filming began on biopic "Man on the Moon", directed by Milos Forman and starring Jim Carrey

1995

NBC aired "A Comedy Salute to Andy Kaufman"

1992

The rock band REM saluted Kaufman with the song "Man on the Moon"

1984

Release of final film project, "My Breakfast With Blassie", a 60-minute video spoof of "My Dinner With Andre"

1983

Broadway acting debut as a wrestling referee in "Teaneck Tanzi, The Venus Flytrap", co-starring Deborah Harry

1983

Diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer

1982

Seriously injured spine during a wrestling match with Jerry Lawler (April)

1982

First of ten appearances on "Late Night With David Letterman" (February)

1982

Confronted Lawler on "Late Night With David Letterman" in July

1982

Made last live appearance on "Saturday Night Live"; phone-in viewer poll voted to ban him for life from ever appearing on the show again (November); he appeared via videotape (January 1983) thanking those who voted for him

1981

Starred opposite Bernadette Peters in the feature "Heartbeeps"; both played robots

1981

During a strike by film and TV writers, worked as a busboy at Jerry's Famous Deli in L.A.

1981

Engendered controversy for breaking the 'fourth wall' during a skit on the ABC late night show "Fridays"; questions about the validity of the ensuing scuffle remain (was it staged or was it real?); returned in September and was on his best behavior hostin

1980

First major role in films, a televangelist (Armageddon T Thunderbird) in "In God We Tru$t", directed by Marty Feldman

1979

Headlined an appearance at NYC's Carnegie Hall; after the show invited audience to board buses and travel to a local school cafeteria for milk and cookies

1979

Began challenging women to wrestling matches as part of his act; self-proclaimed World Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion

1978

Co-starred as Latka Gravas on the sitcom "Taxi" (ABC, 1978-1982; NBC 1982-1983)

1977

Headlined the ABC special "Andy's Funhouse"; aired in 1979 as a late-night 90-minute special

1977

Played the role of Andy the robot helper in a space-age comedy TV pilot, "Stick Around" (ABC)

1976

Feature film debut in the small role of a psychotic assassin cop in "God Told Me To/Demon"

1976

Was a regular on the short-lived NBC variety series "Van Dyke and Co"; "unscheduled" appearances during the middle of Van Dyke's sketches became an instant favorite; 'Foreign Man' to Elvis transformation stunned studio and TV audience

1975

NBC executive Dick Ebersol caught his act in Los Angeles and asked him to audition for what would become "Saturday Night Live"

1975

Made first of 14 appearances on "Saturday Night Live" on October 11; lip-synched the theme to Mighty Mouse

1970

"Discovered" by IMPROVisation Comedy Club owner Budd Friedman (who did not remember his 1962 audition) while performing stand-up at My Father's Place, a Long Island rock club

1969

While attending Grahm Junior College, wrote. produced and directed the campus TV show "Uncle Andy's Funhouse"

1962

Auditioned for Budd Friedman, the owner and operator of The IMPROV; failed audition

1958

At age nine, started performing at children's parties (date approximate)

Began performing for family as a child

Began doing stand-up at Friedman's NYC and Los Angeles clubs

Met Carl Reiner and Dick Van Dyke who encouraged their manager George Shapiro to represent him

Raised in Great Neck on Long Island, NY

Bonus Trivia

.

He was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series in 1979

.

Kaufman also told an interviewer that he was "doing things I did in my room as a child. It's just when I do them before an audience, they think it's funny."

.

REM's "Man on the Moon" became the title for the Kaufman biopic written by Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander (of "Ed Wood" 1994 and "The People Vs Larry Flynt" 1996 fame).

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Kaufman had a falling out with TM (Transcendental Meditation) officials over his wrestling women. They just didn't get the joke, that the sexism belonged to the obnoxious character he was playing, that it was just shtick. TM people today call it a temporary misunderstanding.

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