An actor who played one of the Sweathogs — the students in high school teacher Gabe Kotter’s class on “Welcome Back Kotter” — has died, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports. Robert Hegyes, who played Juan Epstein on the 1975-79 ABC sitcom, was 60.
The cause was an apparent heart attack, as Hegyes had suffered chest pains at his home in Metuchen, N.J., and arrived at the hospital in full cardiac arrest, the story notes.
Hegyes, who also co-starred on "Cagney and Lacey," was known for his role playing "Kotter’s” Epstein, a member of the Sweathogs, a group of remedial students. Hegyes once wrote that he modeled Epstein after Chico Marx, whom he played in a national touring production of "A Night with Groucho," the story notes.
The actor had been in poor health since suffering a heart attack a few years ago, according to his brother, the story notes.