Robert Hegyes who played a Jewish Puerto Rican student Juan Epstein on “Welcome Back Kotter” in 1970 died on Thursday morning. Robert Hegyes was taken to the JFK Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey in an ambulance from his home in Metuchen, New Jersey due to chest pains. By the time they arrived at the hospital, Robert Hegyes was in full cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead shortly after getting to the hospital. “Welcome Back Kotter” star, Robert Hegyes, was 60-years old.
Brother, Mark Hegyes from Montant, told The Star-Ledger that Robert had suffered a heart attack a couple of years ago and was not in good health.
Steven Weiss, spokesperson for Hegyes says the ambulance arrived at Robert Hegyes home at 9:02 a.m. Thursday, January 26, 2012 due to a 911 call saying he was experiencing chest pains. He was taken to JFK Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey and when they arrived at 9:40 a.m., he was pronounced dead in the emergency room by doctors.
“Welcome Back Kotter” ran on ABC from September 9, 1975 to June 8, 1979. Featuring “Welcome Back Kotter” cast members like, Gabe Kaplan who played Gabe Kotter; Marcia Strassman who played Julie Kotter, Gabe’s wife in the sitcom. John Sylvester White played the vice-principal of Buchanan High as Mr. Michael Woodman. A very young John Travolta played an Italian-American, Vincent “Vinnie” Barbarino, who was a cocky heartthrob of the Sweathogs. Ron Palillo played Arnold Horshack who was the clown of the Sweathogs. Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs played Freddie “Boom Boom” Percy Washington who was an African-Amercian and was known for played basketball. Then you have Robert Hegyes who played Juan Luis Pedro Felipo de Huevos Epstein who was a very proud Puerto Rican Jew.
Robert Hegyes went to Rowan University, formerly known as Glassboro State College, in southern New Jersey. After graduation he headed to New York City. He starred in a Broadway show called “Don’t Call Back” that played at Helen Hayes Theater. Aside from “Welcome Back Kotter,” Robert Hegyes had roles in a few other TV sitcoms like, “Cagney & Lacey,” “Law & Order,” “For Lovers Only.” He also had guest starred in a few other TV sitcoms, “Saturday Night Live,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “News Radio,” “The Steve Harvey Show,” “Suddenly Susan,” and “Diagnosis Murder.”
His brother Mark Hegyes said, “He always had these great schemes, but last week he said I’m not going to do that anymore.”
Hegyes leaves behind three siblings, two children, Cassie and Mack, and two step-children, Sophia and Alex.
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. The funeral will take place during the evening visiting hours.