Andy Kaufman (1949-1984)
The offbeat comedian, best known for playing Latka on the TV series Taxi, died from lung cancer at age 35. Partly because he had kept his illness a secret almost until the day he died, many fans thought the death announcement had been staged as an elaborate prank. Kaufman’s frequent collaborator, fellow comedian Bob Zmuda, admitted that he and Kaufman had discussed faking his death and he seemed “obsessed with the idea.” However, in a 1999 interview Zmuda declared, “Andy Kaufman is dead. He’s not in some truck stop with Elvis.” Just in case, Kaufman’s friends held a “Welcome Home Andy” party on the 20th anniversary of his death. The guest of honor failed to appear.