Dinah! (partially lost Tony Clifton/Andy Kaufman segment of American talk show; 1979)

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Dinah! title card.jpg

Title card.

Status: Partially Lost

On the September 19, 1979 episode of the American variety talk show Dinah!, one of the scheduled guests to appear was performance artist and comedian Andy Kaufman, making his second appearance on the program, (having appeared two years before as his "Foreign Man" character), now set to arrive in the guise of his obnoxious lounge singer alter-ego, Tony Clifton.

Much like a similar incident involving Clifton on the set of Taxi the previous year, things quickly turned sour for Andy. According to Kaufman's co-writer Bob Zmuda, Andy got very inebriated on the way to the taping, so much so that when he arrived, he had forgotten to don his sunglasses to complete the disguise, making his very distinctive eyes and the special effects makeup demarcations very visible. After being introduced, Clifton started things off with a very off-key rendition of the song, On the Street Where You Live, before greeting host Dinah Shore and guest co-host, Charles Nelson Reilly, and, although he had arranged to immediately begin a cooking segment, Clifton immediately broke form and announced that he wanted to sing a duet with Shore, (although he had been told beforehand that this wasn't possible, as she had a cold at the time). Shore reluctantly relented and the two went into an awkward duet of Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better, before heading into the cooking segment.

Clifton announced that he would be making bacon and eggs on a stove that was provided. After placing butter and eggs into a sizzling cooking pan, and shoving the eggshells into Shore's hands, Dinah nervously attempted to prompt a commercial break, which Clifton responded to by becoming loud and angrily flicking drops of water at her. He then started to coax the audience into coming down from the stands to watch his eggs fry, but the tape was then stopped and Clifton was forcibly removed from the building by a security guard.

Sometime later, Kaufman was forced by his manager to reluctantly call Dinah to apologize. Kaufman claimed that he wasn't Clifton and apologized for his behavior, to which Shore replied graciously that she knew this and she told Andy that he was welcome back to her show, which he never took her up on. Afterward, a false rumor, possibly started by Zmuda, who appeared as Clifton on David Letterman's show, began circulating that he had dumped the pan of eggs over Shore's head, but this isn't backed up by most who were there, including the security guard who threw him out.  

Upon the episode's airing, Clifton's segment was cut directly after the duet; the disastrous cooking segment was never shown and hasn't been to this day. It is believed that NBC may have destroyed the footage. 


The surviving footage of the incident.