August 16, 2012

Cast Reunions Honor This Year's Passings of Two "Sweathogs"

This week (on Tuesday, August 14, 2012), there was news that (see HERE) another cast member of the 1970s television show "Welcome Back Kotter" died at age 63 ... in this case, it was Ron Palillo, who was known for his role playing Arnold Horshack.  The cause of death was a heart attack.  The reason I say "another" is because another cast member, Robert Hegyes who played the Puerto Rican-Jewish character best known as "Epstein" (although his full character name was Juan Luis Pedro Philippo DeHuevos Epstein, hence the use of his last name only) passed away at age 60 on January 28, 2012 also of cardiac arrest.  According to his brother (see HERE), his health wasn't very good, as he had suffered a heart attack previously and was still trying to recover from that.

It seems stange that nearly half of the "Sweathogs" have now died, and at relatively young ages no less.  Sure, John Travolta (who played the character Vincent "Vinny" Barbarino is still around, as is Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (who played Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington).  Of course, the teacher played by Gabe Kaplan (who played Gabe Kotter) is also around (as well as the woman who played his wife).

Fortunately, the 9th Annual TV Land Awards reunited pretty much the entire cast last year (in 2011), and most of the original cast (including the one of the two who died in 2012, Ron Palillo wasn't able to attend, and the only other missing cast member was John Sylvester White who played the curmudgeonly vice principal and later principal who died back in 1988) were also interviewed by ABC's Good Morning America that same week.  TV Land and Good Morning America may not have realized how fortunate their timing was, as this year, two of those cast members died.  I am sharing those two reunions below as my way of honoring the passing of those two characters.  First is the TV Land reunion, followed by the Good Morning America program.  It somehow seems a bit inappropriate to call this a reunion post, although I am posting those two reunion videos here.  The original "Welcome Back Kotter" show ran for just 4 seasons, from 1975 to 1979.  The show's first season can now be purchased on DVD or viewed via Netflix and other streaming video services.  The theme song "Welcome Back" by John Sebastian was a memorable one.  In any event, those reunions can be seen below.

TV Land Reunion 2011

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