Jerry Seinfeld recently suggested that the character of CosmoKramer was so specific and so demanding that there were very few actors,aside from Michael Richards, who could have taken on the role. In fact,Seinfeld claimed that there was only one person he could think of who couldhave portrayed Kramer. That, someone, was Andy Kaufman. Kaufman, who died in1984, was best known for his characters and accents. The comedic genius diedlong before Seinfeld aired,but he had some pretty iconic roles before his death. So, what was Kaufman bestknown for?
Andy Kaufman as Latka on Taxi
Kaufman’s most iconic television role was that of Latka Gravason Taxi.Several books about Kaufman and his life suggest the character of Latka wascreated by showrunners based on Kaufman’s “foreign man” act. Kaufman, who hadno interest in appearing on a sitcom, agreed to act in 14 episodes per seasonat the urging of his manager.
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Latka, whose accent was unique, never mentioned what countryhe emigrated from, and the language he spoke was entirely made up by Kaufman.Fans, however, assume Latka hailed from Caspiar, a fictional island created byKaufman. He appeared in all five seasons of the show.
Kaufman’s wrestling appearances
Aside from his key role in Taxi, Kaufman was wellknown in performance circles, and had a keen interest in professional wrestling,partly for its showmanship. The famed comedian added wrestling to his act,before approaching Vince McMahon Sr. about joining theprofessional wrestling circuit, then known as the WWF.
McMahon originally had no interest in adding Kaufman to his roster,but Kaufman developed a friendship with Jerry Lawler. Eventually, Kaufman did wrestleprofessionally, but he continued to offer to fight women for a $1,000 prize ifthey could pin him.
Kaufman regularly appeared on the late-night circuit
Kaufman was also a regular on the late-night circuit. Heappeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, five times, and made 11evening appearance on LateNight with David Letterman. He also made several appearances on TheDavid Letterman Show, an afternoon talk show.
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Kaufman made regular appearances on Saturday Night Livebut was eventually fired from the famed variety show. According to MentalFloss, Kaufman was banned due to poor behavior on set, as well as beingdeemed “not funny.”
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