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Simon maintained that Zmuda has a vested interest in promoting an out-of-control image of Kaufman.
In the interview Simon stated that Kaufman was "completely professional" and that he "told you Tony Clifton was him," but he also conceded that Kaufman would have "loved" Zmuda's version of events.
Kaufman's long-time manager, George Shapiro, encouraged him to take the gig.
Kaufman disliked sitcoms and was not happy with the idea of being in one, but Shapiro convinced him that it would quickly lead to stardom, which would earn him money he could then put into his own act.
Kaufman, Clifton insisted, was attempting to ruin Clifton's "good name" in order to make money and become famous.
As a requirement for Kaufman's accepting the offer to star on Taxi, he insisted that Clifton be hired for a guest role on the show as if he were a real person, not a character.
For a brief time, it was unclear to some that Clifton was not a real person.
News programs interviewed Clifton as Kaufman's opening act, with the mood turning ugly whenever Kaufman's name came up.
His mother was Janice (née Bernstein), a homemaker and former fashion model, and his father was Stanley Kaufman, a jewelry salesman.At the beginning of an April 1979 performance at New York's Carnegie Hall, Kaufman invited his "grandmother" to watch the show from a chair he had placed at the side of the stage.At the end of the show, she stood up, took her mask off and revealed to the audience that she was actually comedian Robin Williams in disguise.Note, however, that Simon's association with Taxi did not begin until the show's third season, and he was not a witness to the Tony Clifton appearance described below.
Kaufman was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made For Television for Taxi in 19.After the song's finale, he would take a simple bow and say in his Foreign Man voice, "T'ank you veddy much." Portions of Kaufman's Foreign Man act were broadcast in the first season of Saturday Night Live.