Andy Kaufman Net Worth
Andy Kaufman had an estimated net worth of $3 million at death. Andy Kaufman was an American comedian best known for his portrayal of Latka Gravas on the sitcom ‘Taxi.’ He earned most of his income from his comedy shows.
Andy Kaufman began performing at the age of eight. His later stand-up routine was unconventional, but it piqued Hollywood’s interest, and he was soon appearing on television, including on a new show called Saturday Night Live, Van Dyke and Company, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Mike Douglas Show, The Dating Game, and the comedy show Fridays.
Kaufman made a now-famous appearance in a show at Carnegie Hall in 1979, after which he arranged for the entire 2,800-person audience to be bussed to a Manhattan café for milk and cookies. Around this time, he landed the role of Latka Gravas, an unidentified nationality auto mechanic on the hit sitcom Taxi. Before his death in 1984, Kaufman appeared in several films, including In God We Trust (1980) and Heartbeeps (1981).
To calculate the net worth of Andy Kaufman, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.
Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:
|Net Worth:||$3 Million|
|Monthly Salary:||$70 Thousand|
|Annual Income:||$1 Million|
|Source of Wealth:||Comedian, Actor, Entertainer, Artist, Writer, Screenwriter, Wrestler|
Early Comedy Career
Andy Kaufman was born on January 17, 1949 in New York City. Growing up in the affluent suburb of Great Neck, Long Island, New York, Kaufman began practicing his unconventional brand of comedy at a young age, staging a make-believe television show in his bedroom and performing at children’s birthday parties. After failing the psychological portion of the test, he received a 4-F deferment from the military draft and graduated from high school in 1967.
Kaufman embraced transcendental meditation early on, which became an important fixture in his life and helped him gain the courage to perform. Kaufman wrote, produced, directed, and starred in his own program, Uncle Andy’s Funhouse, on a campus TV station while studying at Boston’s Grahm Junior College, where he majored in television and radio production.
Budd Friedman, owner of the Improvisation Comedy Club, discovered Kaufman while he was performing a stand-up routine in a Long Island nightclub in 1971. He began performing at improv venues in both New York and Los Angeles, surprising his often befuddled audiences with unusual performance art—he once read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby aloud until the entire audience walked out; another time, he appeared on stage with a sleeping bag and slept his way through the act.
Kaufman won a lot of fans — and a lot of haters — with his bizarre foreign accents, dead-on Elvis Presley impersonations, and strange obsession with professional wrestling. He met comedic actors Carl Reiner and Dick Van Dyke through his stand-up; their manager, George Shapiro (later co-executive producer of the hit sitcom Seinfeld), agreed to represent Kaufman as well.
Rise to Fame: ‘SNL’ and Carnegie Hall
Kaufman made his national television debut on The Dean Martin Comedy Hour in 1974. Dick Ebersol, an NBC executive, saw Kaufman’s stand-up routine and invited him to audition for a new comedy program called Saturday Night Live in 1975. Kaufman made his first of 14 appearances on the show on October 11, 1975, during its first broadcast, lip-syncing “The Theme from Mighty Mouse.” The self-proclaimed undefeated Intergender World Wrestling Champion, an ultra-chauvinistic character who offered women $1,000 if they could pin him in a wrestling match, was the most notorious of the many characters Kaufman portrayed on SNL.
Kaufman turned this concept into a series of performances that sparked outrage, particularly among female viewers who were offended by the character’s misogynist nature. In 1982, he was involved in a fight with pro wrestler Jerry Lawlor, with whom he later got into a heated argument on The Late Show with David Letterman. Many people suspected that the conflict on Letterman was staged with Lawlor’s participation.
Kaufman also appeared on Van Dyke and Company, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Mike Douglas Show, The Dating Game, and Fridays, where he got into a fight with fellow cast members and stormed out during the live broadcast. Kaufman made a now-famous appearance in a show at Carnegie Hall in 1979, after which he arranged for the entire 2,800-person audience to be bussed to a Manhattan café for milk and cookies. In God We Trust (1980), in which he co-starred with Richard Pryor, and Heartbeeps (1981), in which he played a pair of robots alongside Bernadette Peters.
Erratic Reputation and ‘Taxi’
Kaufman’s reputation for being completely unpredictable was well-established by the time he landed the role that would make him famous: as Latka Gravas, an auto mechanic of unknown nationality, on the hit sitcom Taxi, which aired from 1978 to 1983.
As part of his contract, Kaufman persuaded the show’s producers to cast his so-called protégé, the smarmy Las Vegas lounge singer Tony Clifton (another of Kaufman’s alter egos), in two episodes. Clifton was quickly fired for being unprofessional. Kaufman went to great lengths to maintain the distinction between himself and Clifton; his best friend and fellow comedian Bob Zmuda eventually took over the role, even appearing as Clifton after Kaufman’s death.
In another dubious achievement, in November 1982, Saturday Night Live viewers voted 195,544 to 169,186 in a live, call-in ballot to keep Kaufman off the show permanently. He never appeared on SNL again after that, except in reruns. The ban, combined with his erratic track record, made it difficult for him to land other TV appearances. Outside of television, Kaufman co-starred in the ill-fated Broadway play Teaneck Tanzi: The Venus Flytrap, which closed after only two performances in April 1983. In early 1984, he also made a short film called My Breakfast with Blassie.
Legacy and Death
Kaufman was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer in January 1984. He had never smoked, and some even accused the consummate performer of lying about his illness, even when it was in its most advanced stages. He died on May 16, 1984, at the age of 35, in Los Angeles. Despite the fact that Kaufman never married, it was later revealed that he and his high school sweetheart had a daughter in 1969 who was given up for adoption. Maria Colonna discovered her father’s identity in the early 1990s.
Kaufman’s legend lived on after his death, and some even believed the enigmatic comic was still alive. From an event commemorating the first anniversary of Kaufman’s death, Zmuda created the HBO special Comic Relief, an annual benefit for the homeless hosted by Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, and Whoopi Goldberg. After Shapiro and his partner, Howard West, produced a hugely successful NBC special, A Comedy Tribute to Andy Kaufman, in 1995, Universal Pictures began production on a big-budget Kaufman biopic. The film, Man on the Moon, was released in late 1999 and starred Jim Carrey in a well-received performance. It was named after the rock band R.E.M.’s 1992 musical tribute to Kaufman. Kaufman’s granddaughter, Brittany Colonna, appeared in the film as the young comedian’s sister Carol. Andy Kaufman Revealed! and Andy Kaufman Revealed! were both published in 1999. Zmuda’s Best Friend Tells All and Bill Zehme’s Life in the Funhouse: Andy Kaufman’s Life and Mind.
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