Actor-director Robert Hegyes rose to fame in the early 1970s as the conniving charmer Juan Epstein, one of the "Sweathogs" on the popular ABC sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter" (1975-78). With his generous grin and stratospheric shock of curly hair, Epstein was a natural clown, which was also an apt description for Hegyes, who had served as an actor and puppeteer in various children's theater and improvisational comedy groups prior to "Kotter." Like the rest of his castmates save for John Travolta, Hegyes maintained a steady if low profile in features and on television in later decades, with a stint on "Cagney and Lacey" (CBS, 1981-88) being his most notable post-"Kotter" credit. He continued to reprise Epstein for nostalgic TV guest appearances and commercials well into the 21st century while enjoying a second career as a college educator. His death from a heart attack in 2012 was a sobering moment for viewers who spent their formative years in the 1970s with Juan Epstein and his education-adverse companions.