Seinfeld star Michael Richards had months to live before making life-saving cancer decision

Matt Shrivell
The Nightly
Michael Richards had a big decision to make after his cancer diagnosis.
Michael Richards had a big decision to make after his cancer diagnosis. Credit: Supplied

Seinfeld star Michael Richards has disclosed he had to make a life-saving decision or risk dying of cancer in a matter of months.

Richards, 74, was rocked by the diagnosis after a routine check-up in 2018 found he had high PSA levels which was then confirmed as Stage 1 prostate cancer.

With his memoir, Entrances And Exits, about the be released, Richards spoke to People magazine with a serious message about his health diagnosis and how close he came to having no choices left.

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“I thought, ‘Well, this is my time. I’m ready to go,’’ Richards said after receiving the news.

“But then my son came to mind just a few seconds later and I heard myself saying, ‘I’ve got a nine-year-old and I’d like to be around for him. Is there any way I can get a little more life going?’”

Richards said if he hadn’t followed the doctor’s advice to remove his entire prostate, “I probably would have been dead in about eight months”.

The stand-up comedian and star of the Seinfeld sitcom said he opted for the full surgery to remove the entire prostate after the concerning test results were revealed.

Cast members of the NBC-TV comedy series "Seinfeld", from left, Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander are shown in an undated file photo. Louis-Dreyfus, Richards, and Alexander will return to the top-rated comedy for next season, NBC announced Saturday, May 10, 1997. The three Seinfeld pals each demanded $1 million per episode from the network to film 22 half-hour installments of the show. The network did not give details of their contracts. (AP Photo/National Broadcasting Co., File)
Cast members of the NBC-TV comedy series "Seinfeld", from left, Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander. Credit: UNKNOWN/AP

“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 out of the spotlight after a disastrous stand-up set led to him racially abusing a group in the audience after they heckled him during the performance.

The actor/comedian told People: “I was immediately sorry the moment I said it onstage.’’

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.”

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