Robert Hegyes, Welcome Back Kotter Star, Dies at 60

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Robert Hegyes, who played Jewish Puerto Rican wheeler-dealer Juan Luis Pedro Phillipo de Huevos Epstein on the 1970s classic show Welcome Back Kotter, has died.

An apparent heart attack was the cause. He was 60.

Hegyes, a New Jersey native who also co-starred on Cagney and Lacey and taught classes at his alma mater, Rowan University, was best known for his role on Kotter.

Alongside John Travolta, he played one of the remedial students known as the Sweathogs, who reunited in 2011 at the TV Land Awards for the show's 35th anniversary.

Welcome Back Kotter Cast

Robert Hegyes, top right, starred in Welcome Back Kotter, alongside John Travolta, left, Ron Palillo, second from left, Gabe Kaplan, center, and Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs.

Robert Hegyes wrote that he modeled swaggering, skirt-chasing Epstein after Chico Marx, whom he played in a national touring production of A Night With Groucho.

He was a big fan of the Marx Brothers: "They were immigrant Jews, I was an immigrant Italian. Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Gummo, and Zeppo were intellectuals."

"They all played the piano and took music lessons, and they were all juvenile delinquents; I could definitely relate," said Hegyes, whose health deteriorated of late.


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