Bob Zmuda

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Bob Zmuda (born December 12, 1949) is an American writer, comedian, producer and director best known for his friendship with cult personality Andy Kaufman.

Bob Zmuda occasionally portrayed Kaufman's Tony Clifton character on stage and for television appearances. In a 2006 interview, Zmuda told the Opie and Anthony Show that it was him as Tony Clifton with David Letterman, and that Letterman did not find out until years after.

In 1986, Zmuda founded the American version of Comic Relief, an annual event that raises money to help the homeless in the United States. The event was televised on HBO, and was hosted by comedians Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg.

In 1999, Zmuda wrote a book about Kaufman's life, titled Andy Kaufman Revealed!, which purported to unveil many tricks and hoaxes that the two pulled off in front of audiences and television cameras in the 1980s. One critic praised the book as "the ultimate insider's look at Kaufman's life,"[1] while some of Kaufman's fans and members of Kaufman's family criticized it for inaccuracies about Kaufman.

Later that year, Miloš Forman directed Man on the Moon, the story of Kaufman's life. Zmuda created the "Tony Clifton" makeup for the film, and made a brief appearance portraying comedian Jack Burns, one of the producers, who gets into a brawl on stage during one of Kaufman's appearances on the 1980–82 ABC Fridays. Zmuda was also Man on the Moon's co-executive producer. On camera, the character of Bob Zmuda was played by Paul Giamatti. Stanley Kaufman, Andy's father, criticized Zmuda's influence on the film shortly after its release, writing in the form of Andy speaking from beyond the grave.[2]

Sam Simon, executive producer on Taxi, revealed in a 2013 interview with Marc Maron for the WTF Podcast that the portrayal of Andy on the show was "a complete fiction" largely created by Bob Zmuda, who he maintained has a "vested interest" in creating stories about Kaufman. In the interview Simon stated that Kaufman was "completely professional" and that he "told you Tony Clifton was him", but conceded that Kaufman would have "loved" Zmuda's version of events.[3]

In 2014 Zmuda co-authored another book with new anecdotes about Kaufman's desire to fake his death entitled Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally, which states that Kaufman's death was indeed a prank. Zmuda says that Kaufman is still alive and that Kaufman would soon be revealing himself as his upper limit on the "prank" was thirty years. Zmuda now states that Kaufman offered to leave him money since Zmuda's career was largely dependent on Kaufman performing but he turned it down because he believed it would implicate him in a crime. The terms of the book deal were not disclosed.[4]

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Locked in the Punch Baltimore City Paper, December 22, 1999
  2. ^ andykaufman.jvlnet.com/realmotm.htm The Real Man on the Moon Talks, The Andy Kaufman Home Page
  3. ^ WTF Podcast: Sam Simon interview
  4. ^ Getlen, Larry. "Friend: Andy Kaufman is still alive". New York Post. Retrieved 2014-10-05. 

External links[edit]