Two decades after fringe comedian Andy Kaufman died (or “died” as some insist) of cancer, the “Taxi” star is more embraced by Hollywood than he ever was during his career.
In homage to Kaufman’s pledge to reappear 20 years after he died (he said a faked death would be his last act), Kaufman cronies Bob Zmuda and George Shapiro threw a Kaufman tribute in Los Angeles last week.
Tickets were no bargain at nearly $100 a pop, but even so, about 500 groupies — some bedecked in “Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion” T-shirts in honor of Kaufman’s infamous wrestling phase — gathered to relive the Kaufman mojo. Some have even made careers out of their obsession.
According to a doc screened for the first time at the tribute, Jim Carrey virtually became Kaufman on the set of Milos Forman‘s Kaufman biopic “Man on the Moon” — antagonizing Danny DeVito by putting salami and cheese under his mattress, and interrupting filming for a Howdy Doodie sermon. (Don’t expect to see the doc in theaters: Carrey is convinced he’ll never get work again if the film is released).
Time apparently heals all showbiz wounds.
No mention was made of Kaufman’s $100,000 ABC special, which execs refused to air in 1977 (it ultimately aired in 1979), or of the fact that he was banned from “Saturday Night Live” as his fans grew disillusioned with his edginess.
Kaufman never did show up at last week’s tribute, but as his former girlfriend Lynne Margulies said, “If he was going to show up, he’d do it tomorrow just to piss everybody off.”