Robert Hegyes 'Welcome Back, Kotter' Star Dies

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    REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi
    Actors John Travolta (L) and Robert Hegyes
  • Robert Hegyes
    PHOTO BY AP/FILE
    In this 1978 file photo, Robert Hegyes portrays Juan Epstein from the comedy series "Welcome Back Kotter." The actor best known for playing the Jewish Puerto Rican student on the 1970s TV show has died. He was 60.
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By Benge Nsenduluka , CP Reporter
January 27, 2012|3:36 pm

Actor Robert Hegyes, died on Thursday from a heart attack, and some renowned names in showbiz took to Twitter to pay their respects.

The "Welcome Back, Kotter" star, 60, was reportedly rushed to JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J., early Thursday and died shortly after, a hospital spokesman confirmed to told the Star-Ledger newspaper.

Hegyes was best known for his role as a Jewish Puerto Rican student named "Juan Epstein," and played alongside John Travolta in the 1970s sitcom.

Former "Real Housewives of New York" star Jill Zarin tweeted, "Nooooo! Are we getting old??RT @THR 'Welcome Back Kotter's' Epstein, Actor Robert Hegyes, Dies at 60."

Wrestler Chris Jerricho tweeted, "Just heard Robert Hegyes passed away. He played one of the greatest TV characters of all time and he'll be sadly missed-signed Epstein's mom."

"RIP Robert Hegyes! #WelcomeBackKotter #Epstein," Bravo TV's Andy Cohen Tweeted.

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Renowned DJ Tony Touch tweeted, "REST in PEACE ROBERT HEGYES aka JUAN EPSTIEN of WeLCOME BACK KOTTER.. Loved that show..."

Hegyes, a New Jersey native, began acting in the 1960s and quickly shot to fame after being cast for what would eventually become the award-winning ABC comedy, "Welcome Back, Kotter."

At 25 years of age, Hegyes eventually became one of the show's directors and it lasted four seasons 1975-1979.

The talented actor once also appeared in "The Drew Carey Show," "Diagnosis: Murder," and "Saturday Night Live" among others.

He is believed to have two children, Cassie and Mack, and two step-children, Sophia and Alex.

Hegyes had once attended Rowan University, formerly known as Glassboro State College, in southern New Jersey, and returned to occasionally teach acting classes.

"He was a good friend to the university," spokesman Joe Cardona told The Associated Press.

Sources could not confirm whether funeral arrangements have been made.

 

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