Robert Hegyes, known for his role as Juan Epstein on the ‘70s sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter,” died on Thursday. He was 60.
Hegyes was transported via ambulance from his home in Metuchen, New Jersey, Thursday morning, and was in full cardiac arrest by the time he reached the hospital, Steven Weiss, a spokesman for the JFK Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey, confirmed to CNN.
“He was pronounced dead shortly after he arrived there,” Weiss said.
Hegyes’ brother, Mark Hegyes, told The Star-Ledger that the actor had suffered a heart attack a couple of years ago and was not in good health.
The “Welcome Back, Kotter” cast reunited in April 2011 when they attended the 9th Annual TV Land Awards in New York City.
In addition to acting as John Travolta’s fellow Sweathog on “Kotter,” Hegyes starred as Det. Manny Esposito on “Cagney & Lacey” in the late 1980s.
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lol, when you have stuff written here by 20 somethings, they're gonna call 60 old. they don't realize how close they are to being 60 themselves.
Firstly...I'll never forget the episode where Juan gets a black eye from the Goody TwoShoes guy anad hides and stays away for days, and then shows up in Kottter's window and tells Kotter he can't look at him, but then relents and says "Ok you can look at me, but you have to have NO EXPRESSION on your face!"...The next 2 minutes were absolutely hilarious, and then touching, and really showed how well he played Juan.
Secondly, the whole argument about religion at the beginning of this...my only comment is that Juan Epstein didn't LIKE school, so wishing him an eternity in school is not so nice...eh?
Epstein was always my favorite Sweathog. There was just something about him!
My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.
You don't need a note from home on this one, Robert. RIP
Your dreams were your ticket out.
To that same old place that you laughed about.
Well the names have all changed since you hung around,
But those dreams have remained and they're turned around.
Who'd have thought they'd lead ya (Who'd have thought they'd lead ya)
Here where we need ya (Here where we need ya)
Yeah we tease him a lot cause we've hot him on the spot, welcome back,
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.
I have that 45! (for those of you who are under 30, it's a small vinyl record...smaller than an album)
So so sad...sorry Travolta has not made any public statement on 'Epsteins" passing...RIP Robert RIP
I pray for his family in this time i know how hard it is to have a family member go on to a better place just know that time helps but you will always remember the good times you and everyone that knew him had god bless. and thanks for the laughter on the shows.
Reblogged this on themorganlafey and commented:
Our wonderful Juan...
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Full cardiac arrest is as peaceful & painless of a death you can have?
I WOULD LIKE TO SEND MY CONDOLENCE TO THE FAMILY OF JUAN MAY HE REST IN PEACE IN THE LORDS HANDS
RIP Epstein. What a wonderful character u are!
Robert I wish I could tell you the joy and laughter you brought in to my life as a young man watching "Kotter". I'm sure Heaven was playing "Welcome Back" as you walked through the Pearly Gates. God Bless your soul and our loss is Heavens gain.
Epstein's mom's fan
Loved this guy & this show as a kid. Even had the goofy t-shirt. RIP, Buddy!
Pease excuse Juan from ________________.
Signed Epstein's Mom.
Loved this show as a kid. RIP Robert!
Doesn't sound like he is going to get a note from " Epstiens Mom" getting him out of this one. RIP Juan
Its only recently i realized..im getting ooold. Everybody looks so weathered from those days. Time marches on RIP.
"Mr. Kotter, I've got a note!" Really loved this show as a teen even though I wasn't even born when it started. Great shows never go out of style. Thanks for the memories. You will be missed Robert.
I met Bob several years ago at a B&B in Mammoth, CA. He did not look very healthy at that time but was up in the morning to hit the slopes with everybody else. Poor guy. 60 is much to young to die. RIP
RIP Mr R. Hegyes aka Juan Epstien. My condolence to the family. LOVE THAT SHOW: WELCOME BACK KOTTER.
"Juan Epstein" gave me quite a few laughs in the 70's...I loved that show. My sympathy to his family. They just don't make shows like that anymore.....
Not that big a deal. Judging by his Puerto Rican fro, he was basically an African American.
He was Italian, you jackhole.
Geez, if you want a clear view of just how much people suck, read the CNN article comments.....Anywho, back to the story at hand – This guy was a very funny actor, and 'Welcome back....' was truly a great show. It takes me back to a time when things were easy, hell, I was just a kid, and even so the economy and life in general was just way better. Thanks for the laughs & enjoy the playground in the sky, NOT the school! C'mon people, we are talking about heaven, right? Spark it up!
I always thought back in his acting prime...If they were to ever make a movie about the Marx Brothers, he would be a perfect Chico. Thanks for the laughs Robert. A bit of my childhood has been taken away. LOVED Welcome Back Kotter. God Bless!
My condolences to and prayers for the family. He was a very entertaining actor who gave us TV fans a lot of good times. To the atheists who are all over any reference to God and the afterlife: Why do you fight so hard against someone you say doesn't exist? How quixotic! There are no atheists in hell...
Yes hope you are having a blast in the sky school, I'm sure we'll all see you there eventually.
Thanks for all of the laughter you brought you guys truly had good spirit!
They said he was a Puerto rican Jew. Mr. Kotter was my favoite, Give it to me later."
I loved those 70s sitcoms like WBK. RIP Robert and thanks for the laughs.
What happened to hotsie tottsie ?
Oh oh oh, mr godder.
I looked back at some shows on utube when Epstein's passing was announced. Boy, what good memories. I used to never miss it when I was growing up. I remember when kotter was fired or quit and the class stars came to his house to visit. Two came in through the window and when leaving they took his tv with them, epstein brought it back.
welcome back kotter is a classic what a great 70's show. rip JUAN.
Dear Mr. Hegyes
Thanks for so many laughs.
A Porto Rican guys dies and all of you suddenly feel bad about it? Hippocrits...
Rly. HA, HA, HA(sbeen)...
I guess he won't be there for the reunion.
"Me, Juan Epstein, the flim-flam man of Buchanan High School, a legit excuse. What's the world comin' to?"
One of the highlights in that show was always waiting to see what new excuse would be presented and signed Epstein's Mother. It was a great ensemble cast.
"We Tease him alot, cuz we gott'em on the spot,...welcome back"....thanks for the laughs RIP
Robert Hegyes I was told had a note that he took with him to the pearlie gates excusing him from strenuous Angel duties, signed Roberts mother aka Epstein. Everybody stop the petty back and forth bickering, Robert is gone from this earth, but not from our thoughts, lets remember the gentleman and actor as someone that brought laughter into our lives for the short time he was here, and remember that his comedy will live on, even past all of us, may you rest in peace Robert!!
Dear Mr. Kotter,
Juan will not be in class today. He will be hanging out at the funeral home.
R.I.P I dont no why people some people are so rude and dont have feeling for the living or dead so much hate have taken over our nation.May God Bless his family.
Little Juan, RIP...
It was a good show and he was a good actor and I'm sure Travola will miss him as we all will. My condolensces to his family and all who loved him.
I think all the cast, including the incredibly busy Travolta, will miss him. Yeah, it would've been nice for a reunion special-the sweathogs 10 years later. But of course with Travolta's movie career (which is why he left the show in the first place), you couldn't possibly have it without him.
Dear Mr. Kotter: Please excuse Robert (Juan Epstein) Hegyes from class today. He is hanging out with the Angels. Signed: Epstein's mother.
He is in Principal Lazuras's office right now
Back then it seemed every class had one guy who would fake notes written by their parents to get out of class. Of course, Mr. Kotter always knew they were fake and didn't allow him to wiggle out of his school work. Nowadays a kid will get thrown out of school for being so creative.
He grew up in Fords,NJ which is central NJ about 45 minutes south of NYC. I knew some people who went to high school with him. They tell me he was funny in high school and generally a nice guy.
He certainly died far too young.
I think every kid in high school back in the 1970's loved that show. I know I did. Why has it been hidden from us and not rerun after all these years? It showed how liberal ideas actually worked in society. Something that is taboo now. Thank you Mr. Hegyes for your fine work. You entertained us as well as educated us and will never be forgotten by my generation.
Rest In Peace. Sympathy to his family.
When Hegyes was working as a theater instructor/director at Rowan University in New Jersey, my brother was in the orchestra of one of the musicals he directed. My brother said Hegyes was very nice, very professional and a joy to work with. RIP.
Charlie in Maine: Your son gave the gift of laughter to many. He will be fondly remembered.
justme: Because the good book tells us to. Besides, it can't hurt a thing.
if he is in a happy place, why pray for him?
Please accept my son, Juan. in heaven, he made a lot of folk's lives better by providing laughter.
Sincerely Epstien's Mom.
With so many bad things going on in the world it is nice to find people that can make us laugh and smile from time to time and it is sad when they die . Thanks to the parents who had such a child that made me smile when I watched the show and thanks to all that brought these people together in such an orderly manner that kept us laughing . This is a great loss but the show we call life must go on ! Thanks to all that made me laugh and smile in my lifetime for I shall never forget the gift you were given until I too am no longer . Thanks for giving me reason in my lifetime to look forward and back in my life at the good times we shared ! Even if it was by way of television .
I remember his big smile and laugh.
what was his latest film that i may buy in remembering him? waoh rest in peace!
Awww,Epstein will truly be missed.Welcome Back Kotter was one of my favorite shows I used to watch growing up as a kid.R.I.P. Epstien.
that was a funny show
I used to watch welcome back kotter. My condolences to his family.
sure enjoyed watching Epstein and the sweethoggs
RIP dude-that cast was histerical.
Oh so sad, my condolences to the family,loved that show. I love when you see pictures of actors together who did shows we loved. It's ridiculous when some don't want to, because they say they were typecast and don't want to be connected. If old shows made people happy and a part of their lives, why diss the reunions just for a picture or whatever. This picture made me smile. :)
The thing that always cracked me up about Epstein is that his father was Puerto Rican and his mother was Jewish, yet his last name was Epstein.
Awesome. I never thought about that.
Very sorry to hear the news. Back when TV was a much smaller medium, most of us had no more than 5 or 6 channels, and great shows like this live on in our memories.
I had forgotten about all the notes from Epstein's mom, thanks for the laughs!
RIP Love that show
My husband and I went as Epstein and Mr. Kotter for Halloween a couple of years back. We won best costume b/c so many people said they had forgotten about that show and it really made them laugh. I have always wanted them to do a reunion show but now it would be pointless. I would have loved to see them all together again. Maybe should have sent a note from my mother ::)
I loved 💔that show , he was so funny😄
probably banned! Good riddance the person has no taste.
Aww, he was my favorite sweathog. My condolences to his family.
Welcome back... your dreams were your ticket out.....
Welcome back... to that same old place that you laughed about...
I met Robert during the taping of Welcome Back Kotter. He was a nice man and a great guy with a great sence of humor. He will be missed. R.I.P. My prayer go out to his family.
I grew up on this show. Thanks for the comedy. My condolence's to your family and friends. RIP
May your family be blessed and comforted by God at this tragic time in their lives. You gave us alot of laughs in your day and have left us with some outstanding memories. You will be missed!
Epstein's Mom :)
He was my hero in the70's.
Was he actually a Puerto Rican?
Don't know but he was much more famous and a bettor actor than that Bollywood actor that died and the blog profiled about a month ago.
Actually he was Hungarian-Italian.
Id horshack alive?
RIP Juan Epstein. I love the sweathogs.
brings back some great memories
im willing to bet you got a helluva excuse note to bring to st peter
Boom Boom Washington = HERE..Horshack =HERE..Barbarino = HERE..Juan Epstein ...?..Juan Epstein !!......Dang !! only a note on his table ?
i was a wee lil one back then and so I only saw on Nick@nite some times. I remember the theme song: Welcome back... welcome back...welcome back..
Which one was the school teacher?
Gabe Kaplan...second person in from the right side of the picture.
I was a smart-mouth teen (we ALL were in those days). Watched the show once Boston lifted the ban.
Some of the best comedy on TV... Can't believe he was 60... I was a kid when it was on air.... Damn, I'm getting old!!!!
You and me both, bro.
It is always sad to hear of one these celebrity's passing. Loved Epstein and I bless his family. Life moves way to fast. RIP
Wonder if the death certificate was signed by Juan Epstein's mother.
I forgot all about that show. That's too bad, I feel sorry for his family & friends. RIP.
Please excuse my son Juan from class for the remainder of the semester. He died of a heart attack yesterday.
In the words of Eddie Murphy, "Ha ha. Very funny, mother f****r!"
I don't know what was more disrespectful – that joke, or that I laughed out loud at it.
Well, I think Hegyes would laugh. He's probably laughing wherever he is.
Mr. Kotta.........Mr. Kotta! I gotta NOTE! R.I.P. You were a talented gentleman!
Wow... he looked awful. Kaplan didn't look great, either...
Why say something mean? The man passed away. Go away please!
NO, he looked great!
Hey thomas, Kaplan is nearly 70 years old, how did you expect him to look. He's still very active, and is considered a fairly elite poker player, as he has won well over a million dollars playing and has won or finished near the top of many high profile tournaments. He also still works, stand up and several other projects. You should be so lucky to look that good and have that kind of mental acuity at nearly 70 years of age.
How shallow and disrespectful. The man was sick, and he was a real cutie in his day.
Really, what an ignorant thing to say. Hegyes was obviously very ill, I'm sure your opinion of his appearance was not a big consideration. Unless you are immune to aging and illness, you'll experience the same thing someday. You probably won't get the attention Hegyes and Kaplan get, but hopefully there will be some snot nosed kid around to tell you how bad you look.
I think the smile on his face and the sparkle in his eyes look wonderful.
Although, I didn't think it was that serious, to me he didn't look well. Call it maternal instincts, a female can ALWAYS tell when someone is sick. I though Horshack would be first.
That pic is amazing. The difference between the cast members. If you had to pic the one who's dead, it's an easy choice. RIP dude, and readers "STOP OVEREATING", "GET SOME Xercise"
It must be nice to be so perfect! /get a life you A**hole!!!
Karma gonna get you brother, healthy or not you will die a bad death.
Thank you for your input. If only more people could share their wisdom in such a compassionate way.
What everyone else said, and learn to spell.
One of my buddies had what we called the 'Epstien Hair' in high school back in the mid-70's. RIP
I loved Welcome back Kotter! It showed me a world I didn't know... living in Quebec. RIP!
Up your nose with a rubber hose!
Off my case toilet face!
Twice as far with a hersey bar.
In your ear with a can a beer.
I forgot about the awesome excuse notes!
This is soooo fitting :-) RIP Epstein!!!!!!!!!!!
Perfect comment...so fitting.
PERFECT! R.I.P. Dude.
Classic brother, oh I miss those days. TV and music used to be so great.
I like that. That's very sweet, and very apt. I do believe he'd get a good laugh out of that. I guess he won't be staying after anymore, he's finally going home!
Well done sir. Well done.
Love Your Comment! Epstein's mom would approve =) RIP Robert xoxox
Nice! I was wondering who would be the first to say that...
LOL!!!! Excellent! I totally forgot about the "Please excuse Juan from -–. Signed, Epstein's Mother. Hilarious!
he will always be remembered and I know god is with him and all his love ones in spirit.
That should be written on a headstone.
Nice touch, David.....made me smile. I had forgotten about 'Epsteins Mom'!
That was what I was going to post. Nice 1!
Nicely played Sir!
his notes always made me smile, esp smile on Hegyes' face while Mr. Kotter (Kaplan) read them. R.I.P.
A giggle and a tear. Great tribute.
Aptly put David. :D
RIP, Juan Epstein.
A final note from Epstein's Mom; well done.
@ David.....Perfection! And so fitting. R.I.P. Mr Hegyes.
I enjoyed his acting in both "Welcome Back, Kotter" and "Cagney and Lacey." My condolences to his family. Rest in peace, Robert.
Poor Ol Guy. Hes now in that happy school up in the sky. We pray for him and his family.
trudy? why pray for someone in a happy school?
Up in the sky in a happy school??? What were you taught as a child you poor thing !! The gentlemen has died a hopefully peaceful death and is no more except in films and memories. I was fan of his and hope his death was as painless as possible and certainly don't wish that he would now float around in this school that you speak of. You should seek a mental health professional to help you sort out this confusion and to help you realize that life is much more dignified than you were told it is.
Davidloc, you're exactly the kind of lecturing killjoy that gives atheists a bad name. TRUDY made an innocuous comment about a happy school in the sky, and you started harrumphing and wagging your finger. Do you also go around ripping the beard off Santa at the mall to show kids he isn't real, too? Give it a break.
60 is not old (unless you are a child of 20or 30's).
Wait till you get there, hopefully. You'll see.
I to hope he is happy in school in sky. I once as a young man was in this happy school in the sky. It was unlike other schools because it was in the sky.
What is it about atheists that makes them want to ridicule everyone else, be as rude as they can possibly be, and to make certain everyone KNOWS nothing religious in any way is okay. Get over yourselves and shut up! It doesn't make you look more intelligent and all-knowing; it makes you appear arrogant, rude, and hateful. What are you doing? Sitting at your computer and just waiting for someone to say something about God, or even the "sky", so you can pounce all over them all day long? Get a life! Maybe in the desert somewhere.......
Poor Davidloc, she did not mean that literally. Lay off the ludes..
Not sure what is worse. That folks have to make everything about their selfish views on life and religion, or that they use a innocent article about an actors death to do it. She made an innocent comment about a happy school in the sky in regards to his acting being done in the background of a school. That was it. You people need to step off the soapboxes for a second. ITs a shame people cant just read the articly for what it is without injecting their own personal crap.
David, you have a loc-ked mind...and want everyone else to be in that same isolated state.
Happy school in the sky – I believe it's called humour, people.
Davloc.... CHILL OUT.. Trudy was just referring to the "role" people will remember him playing. Maybe it's YOU that needs to just get off your high horse about this guy and just smile.
Just is right. People in heaven don't need our prayers because they're already saved, and people in hell don't need our prayers because they are hopelessly lost. It's the rest of us poor souls who need prayer.
Davidloc, you are the type of person that makes me embarassed to call myself an Atheist. Intolerant and negative. You make the rest of us look bad. If my outlook was as combative as yours, I'd really consider professional help.
I was happy in school. It wasn't in the sky, but i was certainly high!
I'm almost 50 and if 60 is old, what the blazes am I?
60 is NOT old. Tat pic from TV Land is NOT flattering to him or Gabe.
david: I'm an agnostic, and I see nothing the least bit constructive in criticizing either the religious, agnostics or atheists. Maybe you could enlighten me by listing one advantage of this sort of malevolence.
Trudy, wish for all A+ grades, no bullies and all nice teachers. One last thing, school only last for one week and then 'endless summers'.
Davidloc, all you heathens are the cut from the same jib. You believe in nothing and have to insult anyone who is not of your religion. You are what, 13 years old?
Dr. J, a bit of pithy uncalled for humor?
Marky, Over the years I have come to realize that most, if not all the atheists, love to insult people who have God in their lives. It makes them feel more human than they actually are. They are not going to get many converts to their religion by insulting so many people. Just ignore them like you would a bad foul odor in the classroom.
Iroy, at 50 you are still a young'un. I say 'Dam, he died so young'.
Stu, that pix of Gabe makes him look like one of the furniture salesmen on Eggleston Ave, in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.
Trudy....that was a very kind and a nice gesture...he probably is in heaven. but those two UNDIGNIFIED guys, justme and davidloc who criticized your comment, owe you an apology....they simply have no class. You are a good person, Trudy!
I am an Atheist and I never put down anyone for what they believe. However, you on the other hand are judging people for what they do or do not believe. Heathens? All cut from the same jib? Wow, I can say the same thing, what are you? 13 years old? There are good and bad people in all beliefs. The one's who judge others to me are the ones so intolerant of anyone but one's who believe such as they do that anyone else is lumped into one ball of hated people.
........and to everyone else, if you want to pray, do so! If you don't want to, thats fine! But please respect others belief or non-belief if you expect them to respect yours!
Please excuse Juan for being late to class. Rigor mortis slowed him up a bit this morning.
Signed, "Epstein's Mother."
Wait a second... Can Epstien's mother still sign excuses for him?
I'm not a heathen, I'm an apostate.
My heart goes out to his friends and family. His fans will help remember him.
Ignore them Trudy. To you other guys, why are you being so mean to some one who was obviously a fan and cares about this family's feelings? Shame on you.
TRUDY - Sorry such a nice sentiment has been over-analysed so much here. I liked it. Sometimes you just have to let art flow over you.
what good will a prayer do for this man after he is dead?
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