Born Andrew Geoffrey Kaufman on the 17th January 1949 in New York City, USA, and was a comedian and actor, probably best recognized for starring as Foreign Man in the TV show “Saturday Night Live” (1975-1982), and appearing in the role of Latka Gravas in the TV series “Taxi” (1978-1983). Andy passed away in 1984.
Have you ever wondered how rich Andy Kaufman was? According to authoritative sources, it was estimated that the total size of Andy’s net worth was as high as $3 million, an amount accumulated through his successful career in the entertainment industry, which was active from 1971 to 1984.
Andy Kaufman Net Worth $3 Million
Andy Kaufman grew up in Great Neck, Long Island, raised with two younger siblings in a Jewish family by his father, Stanley Kaufman, a jewelry salesman, and his mother, Janice Bernstein, who was a former fashion model, and housewife. When he was only nine years old, he started with performances at friend’s birthday parties as a stand-up comedian. During that period, he wrote not only stories, but also poetry, and later became known as an author of the unpublished novel “The Hollering Mangoo”. He attended Saddle Rock Elementary, and later Baker Hill Elementary school, and then Great Neck North High School. Upon matriculation in 1967, he enrolled at Grahm Junior College Kaufman in Boston to study television and radio production. Subsequently, he started performing in local clubs, and soon founded his own college TV show, entitled “Uncle Andy’s Fun House”, and his professional career began. After graduation, Andy began performing stand-up comedy at nightclubs on the East Coast.
Slowly he became more popular, and after appearing as a guest in such variety shows as “The Dean Martin Comedy World” (1974), and “The Joe Franklin Show” the same year, he was called up by Lorne Michaels to appear in the first episode of “Saturday Night Live”. His character, the Foreign Man, was a smashing success, Kaufman having previously honed the act during his nightclub performing days. He continued to appear as a cast member until 1982 when the SNL viewers booted him off the show via a call-in poll. Parallel with his stint on “Saturday Night Live”, Kaufman appeared with another iteration of the Foreign Man character in the ABC sitcom “Taxi” (1977-1983), going on to portray Latka Gravas over the course of five seasons. While Kaufman wasn’t much of a sitcom fan, he was persuaded by his agent to stick with the show in order to gain fame, and later start his own act. The role of Latka also brought him two nominations for Golden Globe Awards.
During his time on “Taxi”, he premiered another character, his alter-ego Tony Clifton, who was actually signed on as a separate actor, to play the role of Louie’s brother on the show. However, due to Clifton’s trademark rudeness and obnoxious behavior, he was finally replaced, however, Tony Clifton may be Kaufman’s best-known character, even though he wasn’t played exclusively by him, but also by his writer, Bob Zmuda. In many ways, Clifton was the opposite of Foreign Man – vulgar, loud and abusive towards his audience. He continued to appear on shows long after Kaufman’s death, portrayed by Zmuda.
Apart from “Taxi” and “Saturday Night Live”, Kaufman is mostly known for his guest starring roles, appeared playing his various characters in shows such as “Last Night with David Letterman”, “Good Morning America”, and “The Merv Griffin Show”. Additionally, he released an ABC special entitled “Andy’s Funhouse” (1979), as well as “The Andy Kaufman Show” (1983). He ventured briefly onto the big screen, starring as Armageddon T. Thunderbird in the comedy film “In God We Tru$t” (1980), alongside Marty Feldman, Louise Lasser and Peter Boyle, and played the main role in the romantic science fiction comedy film “Heartbeeps” (1981), opposite Bernadette Peters.
Kaufman also tried his hand at wrestling, which first started as a parody of the over-the-top wrestling personas presented by professional wrestlers. He first started to wrestle women and invented his own Inter-Gender Championship. Later, he appeared on “CWE Wrestling” (1983), squaring off against Jerry “The King” Lawler. It wasn’t until almost ten years after Kaufman’s death, that it was revealed that their feud and the matches were staged and that Kaufman and Lawler were actually good friends.
Regarding his personal life, Andy Kaufman never married, however, he was in a relationship with actress Lynne Margulies. He had a daughter from an early relationship, who was put up for adoption. During his life, Andy enjoyed practicing Transcendental Meditation. He passed away on the 16th May 1984 in Los Angeles, California, USA from lung cancer at the age of 35. However, due to his showmanship and pranks, there are rumors about him faking his own death as a part of a grand hoax. Also, his alter-ego Tony Clifton continued to appear in comedy clubs, after Andy’s death.
Andy's Army, a group of friends and family of Andy Kaufman, helped induct him into the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame by using #AK4WWEHOF2014 in various forums, pod-casts, blogs and tweets to WWE. It was a surprise for everyone when a Tony Clifton Flashmob suddenly showed up and wrestled Jerry Lawler, Royal Rumble-style.
Laid to rest at Beth David Cemetery (Elmont, Long Island, NY).
In 1980, Andy wrestled stunt woman Marian Green in a playful mud wrestling bout at Chippendales in Los Angeles.
Wrestled Playboy playmate Susan Smith in a match for the intergender championship of the world" belt. Although Smith clearly bested Kaufman in this fierce bout, he was nonetheless declared the winner. There was a pictorial of this match in the February 1982 issue of "Playboy".
Often read from the the book "The Great Gatsby" at performances. But, unlike the movie, never made it further than the second page of the first chapter.
Despite their publicized, but fake, feud, Kaufman was actually a great admirer of Jerry Lawler.
To play up the feud between himself and wrestler Jerry Lawler, Kaufman did several public service announcements in which he proceeded to teach Southern people how to bathe, brush their teeth, and so on.
Scored a zero on the psychological portion of his Army entrance test, thereby classifying him as ineligible for military service.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 441-442. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
During the height of his Taxi (1978) fame, he worked part-time at "The world famous Jerry's Deli" on Ventura Blvd. in Los Angeles as a busboy just to stay grounded.
Was the world's very first inter-gender wrestling champ. Had a perfect undefeated track record and took home the belt.
He once joked about faking his own death and returning 20 years later. In 2004 several of his friends threw a "Welcome back Andy" party. He didn't show up.
One of his most famous performances was on the 1975 summer replacement show Van Dyke and Company (1976), hosted by Dick Van Dyke. As his "Foreign Man", he did two very poor celebrity impressions, and then broke into a dead solid perfect impression of Elvis Presley. After the audience gave him thunderous applause, he replied, in his "Foreign Man" voice, "Thenk yew veddy much!" The audience went into hysterics.
He was such a hardcore Elvis Presley fan that he drove into a town that had an Elvis movie playing, with a TV set, so that he could plug in the set somewhere to see the movie on television!.
Was working on a novel loosely based on his life that weaves in and out of reality titled The Huey Williams Story but had to stop because of his illness.
The video "The Great Beyond", which originally featured clips of Jim Carrey performing as Kaufman in the movie Man on the Moon (1999), was modified on the DVD "Best of R.E.M., The" (2003) by clips of the original Andy Kaufman.
On the DVD "Best of R.E.M., The" (2003), Kaufman appears on the videos "The Great Beyond" (originally released in 1999), and "Man On The Moon" (originally released in 1992).
Before Andy Kaufman, there was no real way to describe what he did. Now it has been coined as "performance art" and many people imitate his style of "entertainment."
He was the original creator of the format TV show Andy's Funhouse (1979) which has later re-vamped by Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman) into Pee-wee's Playhouse (1986). Reubens got permission from Kaufman himself right before his death.
His Tony Clifton character was supposed to appear on the Christmas episode of Taxi (1978) as Louie De Palma's brother, but "Tony" repeatedly pushed everyone's buttons and slowed down production until he was replaced (much to Andy's delight).
His style of entertainment is now known as "performance art."
According to wrestler Jerry Lawler, when they cleaned out Andy's house after his death, many uncashed checks from Mid-South Wrestling promoter Jerry Jarrett were found. These were given as payment for his stint as a wrestler, and made many conclude that he didn't wrestle for the money, but rather for the love of it.
Was the subject of the song "Andy Kaufman" by punk band The Bunkers. 
Diagnosed with a rare, large-cell, carcinoma lung cancer on December 11, 1983.
Despite having his neck broken by Jerry Lawler's Piledriver, he still won the match they had (the Piledriver was illegal where they were wrestling, so Lawler had gotten disqualified, giving Kaufman the win).
Many people doubted Kaufman's death, thinking it was just another gag.
When trying to bring his wrestling women act into the world of mainstream pro wrestling, Kaufman wanted to wrestle at Madison Square Garden for the World Wrestling Federation, but his good friend Bill Apter, a head editor for several wrestling magazines, told him that Vincent McMahon would never go for such a thing, so they tried to talk to Apter's friend Jerry Lawler, which led to Andy's infamous feud with Lawler from 1982-1983.
Along with his writing partner Bob Zmuda, he wrote "The Tony Clifton Story", a full-length feature film about the adventures of his alter-ego Tony Clifton. However after his movie Heartbeeps (1981) tanked at the box office, it was scrapped by the studios.
Although he died of lung cancer, he led a very healthy lifestyle. He didn't drink regularly and was a vegetarian. Although he had smoked when he was younger, he hadn't done so in years; even when doing his Tony Clifton character, he never inhaled the smoke.
Museum of TV and Radio presented 90-minute film of Kaufman highlights to honor him posthumously in New York and L.A. in October 1999.
Kaufman was renowned for bizarre stunts that were part of his stage performances, such as the time he took his entire Carnegie Hall audience out for milk and cookies, via 35 waiting buses.
Interred at Beth David Cemetery, Elmont (Long Island), New York, USA.
According to Jim Carrey as stated in A Comedy Salute to Andy Kaufman (1995), Kaufman created and originally played the "Tony Clifton" character. The secret kept for 15 years (according to Carrey) was that he did so only briefly and the character was soon passed off to Bob Zmuda (Kaufman's writer). Most of the TV appearances of Tony Clifton are actually Zmuda, not Kaufman.
R.E.M. wrote a song about him for their 1992 album "Automatic for the People" called "Man on the Moon".
Of all Elvis Presley impersonators, he was the REAL Elvis' favorite.
Maria was put up for adoption, but later reunited with Kaufman's family, after tracing her biological parents in 1992.
Daughter, Maria Colonna, was born when Andy was 20, and his girlfriend was 17.
Graduated from Great Neck North High School in 1967.
Taxi (1978) co-star Jeff Conaway decked him after the 1979 Golden Globes, when he insulted his co-stars.
His character Tony Clifton
Usually played an unnamed character called Foreign Man, who soon evolved into Latka Gravis, the guy from Taxi. Likes to play with the audience's heads like reading The Great Gatsby instead of performing. Doesn't like to break character, even when he's not filming.
I just want real reactions. I want people to laugh from the gut, be sad from the gut, or get angry from the gut.
I never told a joke in my life.
What's real? What's not? That's what I do in my act, test how other people deal with reality.
While all the other kids were out playing ball and stuff, I used to stay in my room and imagine that there was a camera in the wall. And I used to really believe that I was putting on a television show and that it was going out to somewhere in the world.
They say, "Oh wow, Andy Kaufman, he's a really funny guy." But I'm not trying to be funny. I just want to play with their heads.
Whenever I play a role, whether it's good or bad, an evil person or nice person, I believe in being a purist and going all the way with the role. If I'm going to be a villainous wrestler, I believe in going all the way with it and not breaking character and not giving away to the audience that I'm playing a role. I believe in playing it straight to the hilt.
Pure entertainment is not an egotistical lady singing boring songs onstage for two hours and people in tuxes clapping whether they like it or not. It's the real performers on the street who can hold people's attention and keep them from walking away.
There's no drama like wrestling.
There's no way to describe what I do. It's just me.