Are These Celebrities Still Alive?

Even though the alleged daughter of Andy Kaufman has been proven to be a hoaxer, the great comedian's brother Michael's recent comments have still reignited speculation that Kaufman might still be alive.  It would have been his brand of humor to fake his own death.  Months ago, a video emerged that some claimed might have been the former Taxi star alive and well decades after his apparent demise from cancer.

Kaufman is part of a string of stars who passed away, but who still stir up public imagination with conspiracy theories that they might have participated in some smoke-and-mirrors shenanigans to escape the spotlight of fame.  Going back to Jim Morrison of the Doors and as recently as Michael Jackson, such rumors have made for fascinating, if unsupported, conjecture. Elvis Presley sightings are more common than Bigfoot, and just as unsubstantiated.  Tupac Shakur made enough cryptic (and not so cryptic) references before his shooting, and left so much music that was released after his death, that it's no wonder that so many still believe that "2Pac Lives."  

Often the estates of deceased celebrities continue to make a fortune postmortem, sometimes even more than when those stars were alive. It's a concept I explored a bit in one of my stage plays, "Jackie the Giant Killer." The notion that a beloved superstar would conquer death, pulling the wool over society's eyes, is an enticing fantasy for fans who don't want to acknowledge that their icons are gone. It's more comforting for them to believe that a performer they loved is not actually dead, but living on a tropical island somewhere, laughing at the prank they pulled on the world.

Much of Andy Kaufman's shtick was playing mind games with his audience -- like the professional wrestling he loved so much, how much was real and how much was fake? He almost didn't seem to care if anyone else was "in" on the jokes.

I wouldn't put it past him if, realizing his own mortality, he laid the seeds to have people guessing if his pending death would be true or illusion.  He's probably laughing it up in heaven right now as folks still try to figure out if he pulled a fast one on all of us. Maybe he did, but on the flipside, make us continue to doubt his early passing. I hope he's making the angels giggle as he sings the "Mighty Mouse" theme song.

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