Friday, January 27, 2012

Sad Goodbye

When I was a little kid, I was obsessed with Welcome Back Kotter.   While my heart belonged to Vinnie Barbarino (aka a young John Travolta....I sent him fan letters with money to call me), I also had a crush on Juan Epstein or as any true WBK fan will know, "Juan Luis Pedro Felipo de Huevos Epstein" played by Robert Hegyes.   I dunno...I was exploring my exotic taste at a young age.   There was something about Epstein that I just loved.   He was a fiercely proud "Puerto Rican Jew" a tough wise-cracking guy, and his distincive as Barbarinos but wholly his
I was thrilled when TV Land honored WBK and like many, I was shocked and saddened to see what time and poor health had done to my childhood crush.  But Epstein was still there inside the talented actor who brought so many laughs to so many people.

The Sacramento Bee had a great piece on Robert Hegyes life: 

"Hegyes was born May 7, 1951, in Perth Amboy, N.J. He graduated from what is now Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J., and worked as a substitute teacher between acting jobs before landing the part in "Welcome Back, Kotter."
After the show ended, he played Chico Marx onstage in a national touring production of "Groucho" with Kaplan in the title role. Hegyes later had a recurring part as Detective Manny Esposito on the 1980s TV police drama "Cagney and Lacey," did stand-up comedy and tried writing screenplays.
But he would be best remembered for "Welcome Back, Kotter."
"It's a job where I went to work and laughed every day," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1995. "So how do you beat that?" do you beat that


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