One of my favorite shows to watch when I was little was Welcome Back, Kotter. I still watch the show when I found it on TV. Eventually I would love to buy the complete series on DVD.
Welcome Back, Kotter was on television from 1975 to 1979, a total of four seasons and 95 episodes. It was recorded in front of a live studio audience.
Gabe Kaplan was one of the three creators of Welcome Back, Kotter. Alan Sacks and Peter Meyerson were the other two creators.
The sitcom followed Gabe Kotter's return to his alma mater, James Buchanan High School, New York, to teach history and social studies. He was also in charge of homeroom first thing in the morning. The sitcom centered around his classroom of remedial students known as "Sweathogs". When the sitcom started in season one, the Sweathogs were in ninth grade.
Gabe loved telling jokes and was a bit of a wisecracker. Each episode often started and ended with Gabe telling his wife, Julie, a joke. Throughout each episode there was usually a visit from the cranky Vice-Principal, Mr. Woodman. Gabe Kotter was a former remedial student and a founding member of the original class of Sweathogs. As he is teaching this generation of Sweathogs, he befriends them. The Sweathogs often visit his apartment, usually entering through the fire-escape window.
James Buchanan High School is based on New Utrecht High School, the actual school Gabe Kaplan attended. Many of the characters were based on students that Gabe grew up with during his time there as a remedial student.
Here is a rundown of the main characters:
✿ Gabe Kaplan played Gabe Kotter who returns to his former high school as a teacher. He taught history and social studies, along with being in charge of homeroom. He also loved to tell jokes.
Aside from being an actor, Gabe Kaplan is an American comedian, poker commentator and a professional poker player.
✿ Marcia Strassman played Julie Kotter, Gabe's wife. Julie tries to go with the flow when it comes to her husband and his dedication to the Sweathogs. She often gets upset at the amount of time her husband spends with the Sweathogs. She also gets upset that he allows them to visit their apartment often.
Julie and Gabe had twin babies named Rachel and Robin, played by real-life sisters, Beth and Kay Kearney.
Marcia Strassman passed away on October 24, 2014 at age 66, after a long battle with breast cancer.
✿ Robert Hegyes played Sweathog Juan Epstein. His full name was Juan Sanchez Jose Martinez Guadalupe Sandoval Ortega Valdez Jesus Angel Cordero de Huevos Epstein III. His character was known for his tough-guy strut and a red handkerchief hanging from his right back pocket. More often than not, Epstein had a note "signed" by his mother for either not showing up for school or being late to class ... the signature was as follows; "signed Epstein's Mother"! Mr. Kotter would read the note out-loud in front of the class while Epstein stood beside him and mouthed the words.
Robert Hegyes passed away on January 26, 2012 at age 60. After suffering from chest pains, it is said that Robert passed away as a result of a heart attack.
✿ Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs played Sweathog Freddie 'Boom Boom' Washington. He was the cool cat, athletic Sweathog whose nickname was a result of a habit where he would pretend to play the bass while singing "boom, boom, boom, boom. He was also a star of Buchanan's basketball team.
Washington pronounced Mr. Kotter's name: Mr. Kot-tair! He would often say the phrase "Hi there." in a deep voice.
Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs has since done appearances on television shows and movies. He has a horror movie scheduled to be out in September of this year, 31, which is written and directed by Rob Zombie.
✿ Ron Palillo played Sweathog Arnold Dingfelder Horshack. Dingfelder was Horshack's mother's maiden name. Horshack was the class clown of the crew with a distinctive laugh and a naive nature. He was known for raising his hand and exclaiming, "Ooohh ooohh ooohh, Mr. Kotter" when he wanted to speak in class. He was the smartest Sweathog and was once moved out the remedial class but shortly returned because he felt most comfortable there.
Ron Palillo passed away on August 14, 2012 at age 63. He passed away as a result of a heart attack.
✿ John Travolta played Sweathog Vinnie Barbarino. Barbarino was the unofficial leader of the Sweathogs. He was the heartthrob of the group, not very smart and he was very cocky. Vinnie has a special way of talking and he gets confused easily. Some of his favorite things to say: "Who?" "What?" "When" Where" "Why' "I'm so confused" and several insults such as: "up your nose with a rubber hose" "off my case, toilet face".
John Travolta is one of the more well known actors. Aside from acting, he is a dancer, singer, producer, writer and a pilot. He had a few television roles before starring in Welcome Back, Kotter. He has since go on to star in movies and television. He has been nominated for two Oscars, 46 other nominations and 39 wins.
✿ John Sylvester White played Mr. Woodman, the 'grumpy' vice-principal of Buchanan High, who later becomes the principal. He doesn't think of the Sweathogs as real students and makes it well known his dislike for them. The Sweathogs enjoy making fun of him because of his age and height.
John White passed away from pancreatic cancer on September 11, 1988 at age 68.
✿ Helaine Lembeck played Judy Borden. Judy plays a straight A student and the editor of the Buchanan Bugle. After Welcome Back, Kotter, Helaine continued acting in television shows and movies.
MeTV is currently running episodes of Welcome Back, Kotter Saturday and Sunday mornings. The show is also available to own on DVD.
Hope you enjoyed this trip down Sweathog memory lane! Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day!