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40 Years Ago Today: The Sweathogs leave the air

Welcome Back Kotter

I fondly remember watching reruns of Welcome Back Kotter during the summer when I was off school. I loved imitating Horshack’s “Oo-Oo-Oo” because I was knew I wasn’t cool enough to pull off Barbarino. Sadly, Mr. Kotter and the Sweathogs left the air after only four seasons, with the final episode, “The Breadwinners,” airing June 8, 1979.

Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (“Boom Boom” Washington) and John Travolta (Vinnie Barbarino) are still active actors, while Gabe Kaplan (Mr. Kotter) became an accomplished professional poker player.

Two of the actors that portrayed Sweathogs are no longer with us. Both Robert Hegyes (Juan Epstein) and Ron Palillo (Arnold Horshack) passed away in 2012. Marcia Strassman, who played Mr. Kotter’s wife Julie, also passed in 2014.

The theme song, “Welcome Back,” was written and recorded by Lovin’ Spoonful frontman John Sebastian. It hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1976.

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R.I.P. Ron Palillo

(April 2, 1949 – August 14, 2012)

Horshack RIP

Ron Palillo was best known for his role as Arnold Dingfelder Horshack on one of my favorite childhood sitcoms, “Welcome Back Kotter.” He also voiced Sgt. Squealy on the “Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour” and played Allen Hayes in Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI.

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