Michael Richards reflects on ‘exodus’ from spotlight after 2006 racist rant: ‘I canceled myself’

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In his first live television interview in years, former “Seinfeld” star Michael Richards reflected on the “TODAY” show about a 2006 racist incident at a comedy club that effectively derailed his career.

“Anger had a hold of me,” he told Hoda Kotb on June 4. “I canceled myself out. Take an exodus, get away from show business and see what the heck is going on inside me to have been so despicable that night, losing my cool and hurting people.”

Richards was asked if felt he has made amends for the incident, which was caught on camera and quickly went viral.

“I think so,” he said. “Certainly getting to a place where I could forgive myself because I have to move on and be true blue about that.”

Richards, 74, has stepped back into the spotlight for the first time in nearly 20 years with a new memoir, “Entrances and Exits,” which hits stores on June 4.

The actor and comedian, who won three Emmys in the 1990s playing Cosmo Kramer, the “hipster doofus,” on “Seinfeld,” has kept a low profile since the 2006 scene at a comedy club in Los Angeles.

Richards was filmed yelling racial insults, including the N-word, at a group of hecklers at the Laugh Factory, which effectively ended his career. He did appear as a guest star on an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in 2009, playing himself and poking fun at the incident.

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He also appeared on Jerry Seinfeld’s show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” in 2012, when he said was “busted up” after the 2006 controversy.

Richards enjoyed his first foray back into the public eye in 18 years in May, when he made a red carpet appearance with Jerry Seinfeld at the premiere of Seinfeld’s Netflix movie, “Unfrosted.” Seinfeld also wrote the foreword for Richards’ new book. Richards also shares in the new book that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018.

“I thought I was going to go, really,” Richards said. “I had given into that. And then I found out that if we move fast enough, we could get at the cancer.”

Richards said he had successful treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“I made it,” he said. “I beat it, and that certainly motivated me to get at the book because I went though a big review of my life.”

The comedian’s new book gives people a full view of his life, from the highs of starring on “Seinfeld” to the lows of the comedy club disaster and being treated for cancer.

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He was asked what he hopes people will learn about him from reading it.

“That I’m human,” he said. “There’s a good, bad and an ugly coursing through all these things. Striving to be a better person.

“Just discovering myself along the way,” he continued. “It’s really a pleasure. It’s hard work, though, in dealing with the living and the dying, I think, when I got close to that four and a half years ago.” 

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