'Andy Kaufman lives' says close friend and writing partner Bob Zmuda

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Friend Claims 'Andy Kaufman Lives'

A friend of Andy Kaufman claims the iconic comedian is still alive. Kaufman's writing partner, Bob Zmuda says 35-year-old Kaufman faked his own death in 1984 and will be returning sometime in the near future. In his new book "Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally," Zmuda and Kaufman's former girlfriend, Lynne Margulies, detail the comedian's long-time obsession with the idea of faking his own death.

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'Andy Kaufman lives' says close friend and writing partner Bob Zmuda
TAXI -- Pictured: (back row l-r) Tony Danza as Tony Banta, Marilu Henner as Elaine O'Connor-Nardo, Judd Hirsch as Alex Reiger, Randall Carver as John Burns, Jeff Conway as Bobby Wheeler (front row l-r) Danny DeVito as Louie De Palma, Andy Kaufman as Latka Gravas -- Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
UNITED STATES - APRIL 17: TAXI - 'Louie's Fling' - airdate: 11/5/81 - Marilu Henner, Andy Kaufman, Judd Hirsch, Tony Danza (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Pictured: Andy Kaufman (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 17: TAXI - 'Louie's Fling' - airdate: 11/5/81- Christopher Lloyd, Andy Kaufman (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
TAXI -- Pictured: (standing l-r) Danny DeVito as Louie De Palma, Randall Carver as John Burns, Jeff Conway as Bobby Wheeler, Judd Hirsch as Alex reiger, Tony Danza as Tony Banta, Marilu Henner as Elaine O'Connor-Nardo (kneeling) Andy Kaufman as Latka Gravas -- Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 1 -- Air Date 10/11/1975 -- Pictured: Guest performance by Andy Kaufman on October 11, 1975 -- Photo by: Herb Ball/NBCU Photo Bank
VAN DYKE & COMPANY -- Pictured: Andy Kaufman -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
Comedian Andy Kaufman, shown in this 1981 file photo, has died of lung cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles Wednesday, May 16, 1984 according to a hospital spokeswoman. He was 36. (AP Photo/ho)
TAXI -- Pictured: Andy Kaufman as Latka Gravas -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
VAN DYKE & COMPANY -- Pictured: Andy Kaufman -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
TAXI -- 'Love Un-American Style' Episode 1 -- Aired 9/30/82 -- Pictured: (l-r) Andy Kaufman as Latka Gravas, Carol Kane as Simka Dahblitz-Gravas -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
TAXI -- Pictured: (clockwise from top left) Tony Danza as Tony Banta, Andy Kaufman as Latka Gravas, Carol Kane as Simka Dahblitz-Gravas, Danny DeVito as Louie De Palma, Judd Hirsch as Alex Reiger, Marilu Henner as Elaine O'Connor-Nardo, Christopher Lloyd as Reverend Jim Ignatowski -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
HOLLYWOOD - FEBRUARY 20: Actor Andy Kaufman attends the Taping of the Late Night Sketch Show 'Fridays' on February 20, 1981 at ABC Television Studios in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD - FEBRUARY 20: Actress Melanie Chartoff, actor Andy Kaufman and actress Brandis Kemp attend the Taping of the Late Night Sketch Show 'Fridays' on February 20, 1981 at ABC Television Studios in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Actors Michael Richards and Andy Kaufman, actresses Melanie Chartoff and Brandis Kemp and writer Larry David attend the Taping of 'Fridays' on February 20, 1981 at ABC Television Studios in Hollywood, California.
UNITED STATES - MARCH 01: Debbie Harry, Caitlin Clarke and Andy Kaufman (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 01: Andy Kaufman (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 17: Andy Kaufman (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 17: Andy Kaufman (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 17: Andy Kaufman (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
TAXI - 'Latka's Cookies' which aired on February 05, 1981. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) JEFF CONAWAY;JUDD HIRSCH,ANDY KAUFMAN;MARILU HENNER;TONY DANZA
TAXI - 'The Costume Party' which aired on February 19, 1981. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) TONY DANZA;JUDD HIRSCH;ANDY KAUFMAN
TAXI - 'Latka the Playboy' which aired on May 21, 1981. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) ANDY KAUFMAN;DANNY DEVITO
TAXI - 'Latka the Playboy' which aired on May 21, 1981. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) ANDY KAUFMAN;JUDD HIRSCH
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 31: Andy Kaufman as Latka Gravas and Rita Taggart as Vivian Harrow in the TAXI episode, 'Paper Marriage.' Original airdate October 31, 1978. Image is a frame grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 31: Andy Kaufman as Latka Gravas in the TAXI episode, 'Paper Marriage.' Original airdate October 31, 1978. Image is a frame grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 13 -- Pictured: Guest Performer Andy Kaufman on February 24, 1979 -- (Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 13 -- Pictured: Guest Performer Andy Kaufman on February 24, 1979 -- (Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: TAXI - ' Mama Gravas' - Season One - 2/27/79, Judd Hirsch (as Alex), Andy Kaufman (as Latka) and Susan Kellerman (as Greta) on the ABC Television Network comedy 'Taxi'. The staff of a New York City taxicab company go about their job while they dream of greater things., (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: TAXI - ' Mama Gravas' - Season One - 2/27/79, Andy Kaufman (as Latka), Tony Danza (as Tony), Randall Carver (as John) and Jeff Conaway (as Bobby) on the ABC Television Network comedy 'Taxi'. The staff of a New York City taxicab company go about their job while they dream of greater things., (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
VAN DYKE AND COMPANY -- Pictured: (l-r) Andy Kaufman as Elvis Presley, Dick Van Dyke -- Photo by: Ron Tom/NBCU Photo Bank
VAN DYKE AND COMPANY -- Pictured: Andy Kaufman as Foreign Man -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
TAXI -- Season 5 -- Pictured: (clockwise from top left ) Tony Danza as Tony Barta, Andy Kaufman as Latka Graves, Carol Kane as Simka Dahblitz-Graves, Danny DeVito as Louie De Palma, Judd Hirsch as Alex Reiger, Marilu Henner as Elaine O'Connor-Nardo, Christopher Lloyd as Reverened Jim Ignatowski -- Photo by: Herb Ball/NBCU Photo Bank
Comedian Andy Kaufman with a neck brace, June, 1982. (AP Photo)
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In the book, Zmuda recounts one night in particular when he received a call at four in the morning from Kaufman, asking him to meet at a Los Angeles diner. It was there Kaufman admitted he thought faking his death would be the ultimate joke, however, it was a joke Zmuda wanted no part of.

Zmuda believes that Kaufman found a body-double who was actually dying of cancer, shaved his own head and lost weight, then switched places with the man after he died.

The only reason he's breaking his "longtime code of secrecy" is because Kaufman hasn't held his end of the deal. In the book's final pages he writes, "The only reason I'm giving it up now is that Andy set a time limit on this one. Thirty years. So I've kept my part of the bargain and kept my mouth shut. But no more. The prank's over. I want him back and he's coming back."

Only the book's co-author doesn't think he'll be coming back. Margulies writes that a friend told her Kaufman moved to San Francisco after faking his death, only to die of AIDS a few years later.

Regardless, Kaufman's prank (whether it happened or not) continues to fool with fans. "Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally" goes on sale October 7th.

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