I had a dream last night that I was writing a book about Welcome Back Kotter. The idea was that the folks on the show had started to die off, what with the death of Robert “Epstein” Hegyes last month, there was a limited time to get the stories of the Sweathogs from the actual sources.
The idea was to get stories from the set, but then trace the actors where they went and where they are now. Sort of a continuation of how Kotter himself left the Sweathogs and then returned. The title of the book was just “Welcome Back, Welcome Back”, the last lines of the Welcome Back Kotter song performed in the show by John Sebastian.
I went in search of actors from the show. A didn’t even bother with Travolta, thinking I’d only get him once I’d gotten Kaplan, so I started with a recurring character who had played a tough street kid on the show, and I had found a recent picture of him, a smiling black man in courduroy jacket with a white mustache that extended past his cheeks for about a foot on each side (said it was a dream). I found him using a yellow cab, but he’d turned to a life of crime and held me up.
I escaped him, barely, losing the cab in the process and walked away, lost in the city. Then I woke.
What strikes me is that this would make a really great book. I know it came to my mind because I was thinking about Hegyes “Epstein”. He wasn’t my favorite character when I was a kid (Horschack would have to be), but the Epstein’s Mother bits were way my favorite.
I’d live to hear stories from this cast, like what happened the day Groucho Marx came for a bit part but was too sick to go on. It is a good enough idea that it might already have been done and I just don’t know.
It is funny how big an impact Welcome Back Kotter had although it was only on for 4 seasons. It is also odd how little an impact it had, given how few people seem to remember it. I like to remember it and find it funny that I’m remembering it now, in my dreams, 35 years later.