Hoax? Legendary comedian Andy Kaufman – who died in 1984 – is actually alive, a friend has claimed.
Hoax? Legendary comedian Andy Kaufman – who died in 1984 – is actually alive, a friend has claimed.Wikimedia Commons

In what could be the biggest and most elaborate jokes of recent times, stories are circulating among some news outlets that legendary comedian Andy Kaufman – who died in 1984 – is actually alive.

A friend of Kaufman's claims in a new book that the comedian faked his own death and is now planning a comeback.

Bob Zmuda, who is known for being Kaufman's very close friend and writing partner, has said that the latter began talking about faking his own death long before he 'died' because of lung danger in May 1984. He was 35 then.

"Could you imagine how this is going to blow everyone's mind?" the American comedian allegedly told Zmuda, according to his book 'Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally," the New York Post reports.

Zmuda says he had ample conversations with the comedian about executing the bizarre stunt. He is, however, not the first one to make fake-death claims about Kaufman.

The plan of staging his death germinated around 1982 and Kaufman wasted no time confiding his plans to Zmuda, the NY Post claims citing the book. The two held a conversation on the issue at the Canters Deli in Los Angeles, where Zmuda claims to have refused to take part fearing legal repercussions.

Kaufman told him that he would "fake my death by making people believe I had terminal cancer," the NY Post reports.

When Kaufman began to cough randomly, Zmuda confronted him and said: "Stop with the coughing already – I think it's a dead giveaway."

"I don't know," Kaufman replied, according to the newspaper. "Everyone seems to believe it."

Initially, the comedian began joking that he was going to lie about dying because he ate too much chocolate, but he later changed his mind and pretended to be dead for cancer. "Maybe I'll just stick with cancer," he was quoted as saying.

Zmuda made references to one of Kaufman's scripts as evidence that the comedian was planning to play the elaborate joke. The script, which was written some four years before his 'death' says: "Tony Clifton, at the age of 45, died of cancer at Cedars –Sinai Hospital in Hollywood, California."

Four years later, 35-year-old Kaufman died of exactly the same disease, and surprisingly – at exactly the same hospital as stated.

The story has created quite a stir ever since it was first published on Sunday.