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'Welcome Back Kotter's' Epstein, Actor Robert Hegyes, Dies at 60

Welcome Back Kotter Robert Hegyes - P 2012
ABC Television/Getty Images
"Welcome Back Kotter"

He played Juan Epstein on the 1970s television show and was a regular on "Cagney & Lacey."

Welcome Back Kotter actor Robert Hegyes, who played Jewish Puerto Rican student Juan Epstein on the television show, has died at 60, the Associated Press reports.

The Flynn & Son Funeral Home in Fords, NJ was informed of the actor's death on Thursday by his family.

Hegyes had been transported to the JFK Medical Center in Edison, NJ that morning in full cardiac arrest and died, the Star-Ledger reports.

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Hegyes got his big break on Kotter, a 1970s TV series about a teacher who returned to an inner-city New York school he went to as a child to teach students often referred to as "Sweathogs." The cast included John Travolta, who played Vinnie Barbarino.

Hegyes later appeared in other TV shows, including Cagney & Lacey. He also had stints on CHiPs, Diagnosis Murder, The Drew Carey Show and Lewis & Clark.

Born in 1951 in the town of Perth Amboy, Hegyes grew up the oldest child of a Hungarian father and Italian mother in Metuchen, NJ. He headed to New York City following graduation at Rowan University, where he would often return to teach master classes.