Seinfeld’s Michael Richards on his life-saving cancer surgery and why he regrets racist outburst to this day

The Cosmo Kramer actor said he thought he was going to die

Lydia Spencer-Elliott
Thursday 23 May 2024 17:12 BST
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Jerry asks Kramer why his apartment has been flooded with red light in Seinfeld 1996 sketch

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Seinfeld star Michael Richards has opened up about the operation that saved his life after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018.

Richards, 74, shot to fame playing Jerry Seinfeld’s eccentric neighbour Cosmo Kramer on the hit sitcom that ran between 1989 and 1998.

The actor has written about his diagnosis in his upcoming memoir Entrances and Exits, which will be released in the UK on 6 June.

Richards was told he had stage one prostate cancer after a routine check up revealed high Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) levels.

Speaking to People, the actor said he thought the diagnoses meant it was his “time” to die and he felt “ready to go”.

It was only after seeing his son Antonio, who was nine at the time, that the actor decided to try and “get a little more life going”.

Although doctors didn’t recommend surgery, Richards opted for an operation to remove the entire prostate following a worrying biopsy.

Seinfeld star Michael Richards has opened up about the prostate cancer operation that saved his life
Seinfeld star Michael Richards has opened up about the prostate cancer operation that saved his life (Getty Images)

“It had to be contained quickly," he said. “I had to go for the full surgery. If I hadn’t, I probably would have been dead in about eight months.”

Richards has spent the last 18 years largely out of the limelight since being filmed onstage at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles hurling racist insults, including the N-word, at a group of hecklers during his stand-up set.

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The actor told People: “I was immediately sorry the moment I said it onstage and has claimed, despite releasing his memoir, he’s “not looking for a comeback”.

Asked about that night in 2006, Richards said he has no excuse for the language he used. “I’m not racist,” he said. “I have nothing against Black people. The man who told me I wasn’t funny had just said what I’d been saying to myself for a while. I felt put down. I wanted to put him down.

“My anger was all over the place and it came through hard and fast,” continued Richards. “Anger is quite a force. But it happened. Rather than run from it, I dove into the deep end and tried to learn from it. It hasn’t been easy.”

Richards told the publication that he’s spent the last 17 years in “deep analysis,” and said: “It was time to figure out where all the anger was coming from.”

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