Robert Hegyes, Epstein of ‘Welcome Back Kotter’ Fame, Dead at 60: Robert “Bobby” Hegyes, best known for playing Juan Epstein on “Welcome Back Kotter,” died in his Metuchen, N.J. home today. He was 60. Courtesy of ABC News. I always thought that it would fun to go to school with the Sweathogs. Unfortunately, I went to school with rednecks and Republican kids that hated me. "Dear Mr. Kotter: Please excuse, my son, Juan. He has passed away."