The list of Welcome Back, Kotter cast deaths is sure to make Sweathogs across the land tear up with thoughts of the good ol’ days.
After all, Kotter, which aired from 1975 to 1979, was one of the most beloved and iconic sitcoms of the 1970s.
The show, of course, was centered around a teacher named Gabe Kotter (played by Gabe Kaplan) who returns to his Brooklyn alma mater to teach a group of remedial students nicknamed the “Sweathogs.” While the show was popular during its original run, in later years some of the cast members sadly passed away.
Here is a complete list of the dearly departed Sweathogs.
John Sylvester White (1918-1988)
John Sylvester White portrayed Principal Woodman at James Buchanan High. White was born in Los Angeles in 1918 and had an extensive career as a stage, film and television actor. He appeared in shows like Hazel, Father Knows Best, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. White died of cancer in 1988 at the age of 69.
Marcia Strassman (1948-2014)
Marcia Strassman played Gabe Kotter’s wife Julie on the show. She was born in New York City in 1948 and got her start performing on Broadway. In addition to Welcome Back, Kotter, she was known for roles in shows like MAS*H and Tremors. Strassman died at age 66 after a lengthy battle with breast cancer.
Robert Hegyes (1951-2012)
Robert Hegyes portrayed high school student Juan Epstein on the series. He was born in 1951 in New Jersey and developed an interest in acting while a student at Rowan University. In addition to Welcome Back, Kotter, Hegyes appeared on shows like Cagney & Lacey. Hegyes died suddenly from an apparent heart attack in 2012 at age 60.
Ron Palillo (1949-2012)
Ron Palillo played classroom clown Arnold Horshack on Welcome Back, Kotter. He was born Ronald Paolillo in Connecticut in 1949. After the show ended, he continued acting in television and theater. Palillo died from an apparent heart attack in 2012 at age 63. His death came only a few months after his co-star Robert Hegyes had passed away earlier that year.
The cast of Welcome Back, Kotter were an integral part of the show’s popularity and success in the late 1970s. It’s sad that many cast members died relatively young, but their legacy lives on through reruns of this classic sitcom. The comedic timing and endearing characterizations of this talented cast made the show a fan favorite that still holds up many decades later.