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Farewell, Epstein — ‘Welcome Back Kotter’ Actor Robert Hegyes Dead at 60


Someone get Mr. Kotter a box of tissues. Robert Hegyes, who played Juan Luis Pedro Phillipo de Huevos Epstein — better known as simply Epstein — on the 1970s sitcom ‘Welcome Back Kotter’ died from an apparent heart attack on Thursday at the age of 60.

The Jersey-born actor also co-starred on ‘Cagney and Lacey,’ but he was best known for his work alongside a young John Travolta as one of the tough remedial students known at the Sweathogs on ‘Kotter.’

On his website, Hegyes wrote that he pulled inspiration for the overly-confident, womanizing Epstein from Chico Marx, whom he once played in a national touring production of ‘A Night With Groucho.’ He was a big fan of the Marx Brothers, saying “they were all juvenile delinquents; I could definitely relate.”

In addition to his work on ‘Kotter’ and ‘Cagney and Lacey,’ Hegyes also made occasional appearances on shows like ‘NewsRadio,’ ‘Diagnosis Murder’ and ‘The Drew Carey Show,’ and he taught acting classes at several colleges.

Hegyes leaves behind three siblings, two children and two step-children. (No word on whether “Epstein’s mother” has heard the sad news.)

If you’re in New Jersey and want to pay your respects, visitation will be at Flynn & Son Funeral Home at 23 Ford Ave., Fords, on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. In tribute, check out the ‘Welcome Back, Kotter’ theme song and an awesome Sweathogs’ performance of the song ‘Jeepers Creepers’ below.


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