'Epstein' Bests From 'Welcome Back Kotter': Robert Hegyes in Memoriam (VIDEOS)

juan epsteinSad news for Sweathogs: Robert Hegyes, the actor best known for his role as the Puerto Rican/Jewish wiseguy Juan Epstein on Welcome Back Kotter, passed away this week from an apparent heart attack at the age of 60.

For those of us who still picture Hegyes rocking an oh-so-'70s 'fro, a red handkerchief hanging out the back pocket of his jeans, it doesn't seem possible that he could be gone.

Unlike his "classmate" John Travolta, who never really left the spotlight (not for long, anyway), Hegyes will remain forever young in the hearts of Welcome Back Kotter fans.

I can hear it now: "Hey Mr. Kotter, I got a note!"


Classic. Oh, like you never pulled a similar stunt in high school ("Signed, Epstein's mother")? Up your nose with a rubber hose!

Hegyes did continue to work in TV post-Kotter (remember him on Cagney & Lacey?), but Juan Luis Pedro Phillipo de Huevos Epstein remained his signature character. And why not? The Jersey-born actor of Italian/Hungarian descent truly poured his heart into Epstein, even working his trademark Chico Marx impersonation into the show (his real-life nickname was Chico).

There's no doubt Robert Hegyes will be missed. Somehow today the Welcome Back Kotter theme song sounds just a little bit sad ...

And now, a favorite Welcome Back Kotter scene:

What was your favorite Juan Epstein moment on Welcome Back Kotter?

Image via scjdm5/YouTube

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