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Q: Andy Kaufman the comedian. ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Andy Kaufman the comedian.
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Celebrities
Asked by: shortney-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 27 Nov 2005 13:37 PST
Expires: 27 Dec 2005 13:37 PST
Question ID: 598215
Tell me if Andy Kaufman was diagnosed wit Multiple Personality
Disorder, and if not why did people, friends and family think he did
have it.
Subject: Re: Andy Kaufman the comedian.
Answered By: crabcakes-ga on 27 Nov 2005 18:17 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hello Shortney,

  Although I have found several sites that allude to Andy Kaufman
having had multiple personality disorder, none of these sites are

   Kaufman  was thought to have had a mild form of autism, and he
played the role of a person with multiple personalities, on ?Taxi?,
which may have started the rumors. If he truly was diagnosed with the
disorder, he never revealed it to the public.

?Kaufman later reprised his "Foreign Man" character, renamed "Latka
Gravas", for the Taxi sitcom in 1978. Kaufman hated sitcoms and was
not thrilled with the idea of being on one. In order to allow Kaufman
to demonstrate some comedic range, his character was given multiple
personality disorder which allowed Kaufman to display other
characters. In one episode, Kaufman's character came down with a
condition which made him act like the character played by Judd

?Born 17 January, 1949, Andy Kaufman was an odd boy. As a child, Andy
wanted to entertain the world. Kaufman explains, '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.'?

?Later that year, when Andy hosted the live TV show, Fridays, he said,
'All week, we've been rehearsing a certain way. But I'm not going to
do it!' He then proceeded to act like a fool and improvise. He clucked
like a chicken and refused to end the monologue. Through most of the
sketches, he made mistakes on purpose. In the middle of the last one,
he suddenly said, 'I feel stupid.' and disgruntled some cast members.
Michael Richards grabbed the cue cards and threw them at Andy. After
this, water was tossed, food was thrown and chaos and havoc ensued.?

?Some have theorised that Andy Kaufman had multiple personality
disorder. When he was feeling stressed, he would transform himself
into Tony Clifton and go on a meat eating, drinking and smoking binge.
He is also said to have been obsessive compulsive. When stepping on a
plane, you had to use your right foot first, etc.?

?In one of the most entertaining episodes of Taxi in the entire
history of the series, Latka suffers from a multiple personality
disorder and does a dead-on impression of Alex (Judd Hirsch).?

?In Taxi: Mr. Personalities, the late, lamented Andy Kaufman stars as
garage mechanic Latka Gravas, who in this episode is afflicted with
multiple personalities, including Arlo the cowboy, ultra-smooth Vic
Ferrari, and -- most amusingly -- Alex Reiger, the character played by
Judd Hirsch. Both Alexes seek the help of psychiatrist Barry Nelson,
but Latka/Alex seems to have more personal insight than does the real

?He was the only sitcom star known to actually negotiate the fewest
possible appearances in his contract. He perceived of "Taxi"as a way
to gain exposure so that he could fund himself to do what he really
wanted in concerts, in comedy venues: to tweak perceptions, and then
re-tweak them, and then, just when you thought you had him figured
out,to tweak them again. And yet, he couldn't help but to be brilliant
on "Taxi"--especially when "Latka" developed multiple personalities,
allowing Andy to develop and perfect an entirely new role--the macho,
egotistical playboy, Vic Ferrari.?

Others theorize that Andy Kaufman had an Autism Spectrum Disorder:
?Recently, some researchers have speculated that many well-known
people including Andy Warhol, Andy Kaufman, Craig Nicholls, Rainer
Werner Fassbinder, Glenn Gould, Gary Numan, Erik Satie, Nikola Tesla,
Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Friedrich Nietzsche, Theodore
Kaczynski, William James Sidis, Bobby Fischer, Steven Spielberg and
Bill Gates have or had AS, as they showed some Asperger's related
tendencies, such as intense interest in one subject and social
problems. Such diagnoses remain controversial, however (cf. BBC News,
Einstein and Newton "had autism"
(, 30 April 2003), and
some more so than others, as most scholars seem to agree that Satie
suffered at least from some form of autism.?

Short bio of Andy Kaufman, with no mention of any disorder.:

?Forever hiding behind the many masks of his bizarre onstage
characters and never making clear distinctions between what was real
or part of his act, Kaufman occupied much of his time in a world of
his own. Ever perpetuating insanity upon the entertainment world, Andy
seemed to operate not as a single person, but as a collective of split
personalities. He is probably the closest thing we've had to a
schizophrenic celebrity since Frances Farmer (the erratic and
electro-shocked B-movie actress of the thirties). But he's not
schizophrenic like, say, that guy I saw in the subway last week
yelling about the Taiwanese baseball game being broadcast over the
radio implants in his fillings. No, Andy brought us the fun kind of
schizophrenia that fills one's head with a million chattering voices
all trying to be heard and expressed at once, no matter how strange it
may seem to the world. When Andy heard those voices in his head,
rather than going to a psychiatrist, he threw open his arms and
embraced them like a prodigal monkey.?

This is the only statement, (and non-authoritative at that) I have
found that mentions Andy Kaufman as having had a mental disorder.
?Most people didn't understand Kaufman, and still don't. "Man on the
Moon" shed some light on Kaufman's personality...but nothing was
uncovered. He was truly a confused human being; people confused his
pranks for intended humor, when it really wasn't. Once, on David
Letterman's talk show, he shouted curses at a wrestler, and ran off
the stage in fright. It is revealed in the movie biopic that the
wrestler was in on it, and Kaufman's joy came from knowing that he had
confused America once again. Watching the film will help reveal how
sick Kaufman really was sometimes.?

If you have an (free) account, you can utilize the ?Search
Inside? the book function.

A search inside ?Andy Kaufman Revealed? using ?multiple personality
disorder? returned all these results:

Using ?mental? returned these results:

?? of the third day I was beginning to doubt my sanity. Shelly and our
friends were becoming concerned about my mental state, and I discussed
with them the possibility of seeing a psychologist at the local free

This page says a clinical psychologist thought Kaufman may have had
multiple personalities, but does not confirm a diagnosis.

If Kaufman was not diagnosed, this may be another clue as to how the story began:

This page also describes what may have contributed to the story of
Kaufman?s multiple personalities:

I hope this is the answer you were seeking. If not, please request an
Answer Clarification, before rating this answer. I will be happy to
assist you further if possible, on this question.

Regards, Crabcakes

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shortney-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Thank you for your help. Your answer is what I needed. And thank you
for the following information providing me w/ other sites on Andy
Kaufman. I saw many sites on him but none were the was you sent back.
Thank you again.

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