‘Seinfeld’ Star Michael Richards Reveals Battle With Prostate Cancer

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Michael Richards, the actor who played Kramer on Seinfeld for nearly a decade, has opened up about being diagnosed with cancer, and fearing that he was going to die.

The actor, who is coming out a memoir titled Entrances and Exits this summer, writes about how he was told he had prostate cancer in the summer of 2018. He was diagnosed with Stage 1.

He thought that could’ve been the end for him, he said in an interview with People magazine. “I thought, ‘Well, this is my time. I’m ready to go,’” Richards said. But then he thought about his then 9-year-old son Antonio he shares with his wife Beth Skipp.

“I heard myself saying, ‘I’ve got a 9-year-old and I’d like to be around for him,’” he continued. “‘Is there any way I can get a little more life going?’”

Per the recommendation of his doctor, Richards underwent surgery to remove the entire prostate in an attempt to contain the growth quickly. “I had to go for the full surgery,” he shared. “If I hadn’t, I probably would have been dead in about eight months.”

His grappling with mortality accompanied by over 40 journals of reflection pushed the actor to release his memoir. He expressed wanting to “connect with feelings and memory” and was even “surprised at how much” he was able to remember.

Richards (to the surprise of many) was seen at Jerry Seinfeld‘s Netflix film Unfrosted premiere last month. The actor hasn’t appeared this much in public since his career-halting outburst of racism in 2006, when he was recorded yelling the N-word and other racial insults at a group of hecklers during his standup set at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles.

Now, Richards has returned to the public eye, coinciding with the release of his memoir. Richards told People magazine he’s “not looking for a comeback.” He said he “was immediately sorry the moment” he said the racial slurs on stage in 2006.

He said he doesn’t expect people to forget and move on, nor does he expect that of himself.

“My anger was all over the place,” Richards said. “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.”

He added, “Crisis managers wanted me to do damage control. But as far as I was concerned, the damage was inside of me.”

After the infamous incident, the Emmy-award-winning actor stepped away from limelight and looked inward in an attempt to figure out “where all the anger was coming from.” As for why he turned down career opportunities such as receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame or hosting Saturday Night Live, he chalked it up to his own insecurities.

“I didn’t feel good enough,” he said. “I was never really satisfied with my Seinfeld performance. Fame magnified my insecurities.”

Since 2006, Richards appeared in two movies. He was a voice actor in Seinfeld’s Bee Movie in 2007 and appeared in Faith, Hope & Love in 2019. His television appearances, also few and far between, were Seinfeld-related, such as his appearance in three episodes of Larry David‘s Curb Your Enthusiasm. He also appeared on Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee in 2012.

Richards’ memoir, Entrances and Exits, publishes June 4 from Permuted Press.

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