Actor Robert Hegyes, best known for playing Sweathog Juan Epstein on Welcome Back, Kotter, has died. The Star-Ledger reports he suffered an apparent heart attack at his New Jersey home earlier this morning. He was 60 years old.
Hegyes played Epstein on ABC’s hit sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter for all four seasons, starring alongside Gabe Kaplan, Marcia Strassman, John Sylvester White, Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs, Ron Palillo, and John Travolta.
The actor said that he modeled the “Juan Luis Pedro Philippo DeHuevos Epstein” character after Chico Marx, whom he later played in a national touring production of A Night With Groucho. Most of the Kotter cast reunited at last year’s TV Land Awards to celebrate the sitcom’s 35th anniversary.