Remembering the Sweathogs

It's been a sad year for the Sweathogs and their fans.  Aside from the still-unsubstantiated legal and public relations travails of John Travolta who played Vinnie Barbarino, two of his fellow remedial gang Sweathogs from the classic sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter passed away this year. Robert Hegyes who played Juan Epstein passed away back in January. On Tuesday, August 14, Ron Palillo who played Arnold Horschack died at age 63. Both were stricken by heart attacks and were taken away from this world too soon.

Welcome Back, Kotter, which aired on ABC from 1975 to 1979, was a comedy that always put a smile on my face and still manages to be as funny as ever when I see it today. The cast of characters with their witty catchphrases worked great together.

My friend Bill perfectly summed up its impact when he wrote: "Wow. Another part of our youth is gone. Truly my favorite favorite character on a show I NEVER EVER missed on Thursday nights in grammar school. Another Sweathog gone. I know...'just an actor on an old sitcom'...but at the time, shows like that were part of who we were. I can still hear him: 'Right you are Mr. Kot-ter.' Met him about two years ago and he was such a sweet guy. ' are name is Arnold HorSHACK...'"

May Ron and Robert rest in peace. I hope they're not getting into too much trouble up there in heaven. I'm sure they're making the angels laugh.