Juan Epstein will not be in class today because God needed a sweathog in Heaven. Signed Epstein’s MotherJanuary 29th, 2012 by Hotel Fashionland received 1 Comment »
Welcome Back, Kotter” television star Robert Hegyes died Thursday, giving millions of Americans pause to reflect back in time to 1975, when Epstein, Vinnie Barbarino and the other “Sweathogs” ruled. The plot for “Welcome Back, Kotter” might sound a little familiar to Glee (problem student becomes teacher, returns to old stomping grounds).
And, like “Glee,” the show was groundbreaking -- and plenty controversial — when it was introduced into ABC’s prime-time line-up. The show lasted four seasons and launched John Travolta’s career. But It captivated the nation with it’s racially diverse cast and edgy story line involving high school misfits.
Perhaps that explains why “Welcome Back, Kotter” and “Epstein” have remained some of the most Googled terms in America since news that Hegyes died last Thursday of a heart attack at his home in New Jersey.
Epstein, half Jewish and half Puerto Rican, was known for his insouciant slouch, shirt open to the navel and an often immense Afro, capacious even by ’70′s standards. As portrayed by Mr. Hegyes, the character was equal parts “West Side Story” tough and Sergeant Bilko trickster. (Mr. Hegyes said he modeled Epstein on Chico Marx.)
Absence-excuse notes were among Epstein’s specialties, though the fact that they were invariably signed “Epstein’s Mother” tended to tip his hand. When you think about the 1970s, you think about disco. And “Saturday Night Fever.” And John Travolta. If you had to name 10 things that say 1970s, ‘Welcome Back Kotter’ would be somewhere on that list. Robert Hegyes will clearly be missed!Celebrity, Hotel Fashionland, Music, Robert Hegyes