Birthday: May 7, 1951
Died At Age: 60
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Robert Bruce Hegyes
Born Country: United States
Born in: Perth Amboy, New Jersey, United States
Famous as: Actor
Height: 5'7" (170 cm), 5'7" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Cynthia Wylie (1994 - div. 2007), Kyle Drummer (m. 1979 – div. 1984), Lynn O'Hare (m. 1987 – div. 1993), Mary Kunes (m. 1973 – div. 1978)
mother: Marie Dominica Cocozza
children: Alex, Cassondra, Mac, Sophia
Died on: January 26, 2012
place of death: Edison, New Jersey, United States
U.S. State: New Jersey
Robert Hegyes was an American actor, best remembered for his role in the ABC sitcom, ‘Welcome Back, Kotter’. Born into a family of mixed descent, he developed a theatrical interest early in his life, which was further kindled while studying in high school by his theater teacher. Therefore, after earning his B.A. degree in speech/theatre and secondary education, he moved to New York City to begin his acting career on stage, later moving to California to begin his career in the television industry. In his later years, concurrently with appearing intermittently on television, he wrote screenplays for nine films and began teaching oral communication at Brooks College, Long Beach. He was also a guest lecturer at Rowan University, where he taught various subjects, including screenplay writing. In 2009, he returned to his hometown, where he continued to be involved in the local performing arts scene, planning for a one-man show at the time of his death. He made his last public appearance in ‘An Evening with Groucho,’ where he played the role of Chico Marx, just a few days before he died.
Childhood & Early Life
Robert Bruce Hegyes was born on May 7, 1951, in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. His father, Stephen Hegyes, was of Hungarian-American ancestry, while his mother, Marie Dominica Cocozza, a big Broadway musical and Frank Sinatra fan, came from an Italian-American family.
He was born as the oldest of his parents’ four children, having a younger brother named Mark and two younger sisters named Stephanie and Elizabeth. The siblings were raised in Metuchen, New Jersey, where Robert studied at Metuchen High School.
He developed a theatrical ambition early in his life while singing with his mother her favorite songs. It was further stimulated by his high school’s theater teacher, Barton Shepard, under whom he learned acting.
Robert was also good in sports and played as a linebacker on the high school football team. However, acting was his first love and therefore, after graduating from school in 1969, he entered Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) to study speech/theatre and secondary education. He graduated from there possibly in 1973.
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On earning his B.A. degree, Robert Hegyes moved to New York City. There, he began his career with Greenwich Village’s children’s reparatory companies like Theater in a Trunk and The NYC Children's Puppet Ensemble, later joining Jack LaRumpa's Flying Drum & Kazoo Band, playing improvisational anti-war comedies with them.
In August 1974, he got his first break when he was cast in the off-Broadway production of ‘Naomi Court’. His performance caught the attention of Len Cariou, who, in March 1975, cast him as Trucker in his Broadway production of ‘Don't Call Back’.
While playing Trucker, he auditioned for a role in the TV series ‘Welcome Back, Kotter’, eventually winning the star role of Juan Luis Pedro Felipo de Huevos Epstein in 1975. He remained with the show till its end in 1979. Meanwhile, he also started guest-starring in various TV productions, many of which were episodic series.
In 1975, he appeared on the TV show ‘Saturday Live Night’ with the host Quentin Tarantino. The same year in October, he appeared as Richie in one episode of 'The Streets of San Francisco'.
In 1976, he appeared in three television game shows; ‘Tattletales', 'Match Game '76' and 'The $20,000 Pyramid,' and also in Bill Cosby’s sketch-comedy/variety show, ‘Cos’. These were followed in 1977 by ‘The Brady Bunch Hour,' 'The $20,000 Pyramid,' and 'The Love Boat,' and in 1978 by ‘Chico and the Man’.
In the late 1970s, he debuted on the San Francisco stage with ‘An Evening with Groucho’, appearing in it in the role of Chico Marx. Concurrently, he continued to appear in small roles in different television productions, debuting in films in 1981 with a supporting role in ‘'Underground Aces'.
In 1986, he received his second star role, appearing as Detective Manny Esposito in the award-winning television series, ‘Cagney & Lacey’, remaining with it till its end in 1988. During this period, he also continued to appear intermittently on the television game show, ‘Pyramid’.
In the 1990s, he continued to guest-star in various television productions, appearing in series like Mr. Rhodes’ in 1997, 'The Drew Carey Show', 'Diagnosis Murder' and 'Newsradio' in 1998, and ‘L.A. Heat’ in 1999.
Meanwhile in 1992, he appeared as reporter Ernesto Galleano in the mockumentary film ‘Bob Roberts’.
He devoted the later years of his life to teaching and writing screenplays, himself appearing on television very infrequently. He appeared in ‘The Singing Bee’, a karaoke game show aired on NBC in 2007. His last stint on TV was in ‘Good Morning America,’ a news talk show in 2011.
Robert Hegyes is best remembered for his role in the TV series ‘Welcome Back, Kotter,’ appearing in it as the high school student, Juan Epstein, from 1975 to 1979. Apart from acting in the lead role, he also directed a few of its episodes.
Family & Personal Life
Robert Hegyes was thrice married. His first wife was Mary Kunes, whom he married on September, 1 1973. The couple divorced on October 3, 1978. On December 29, 1979, he married his second wife, Kyle Drummer. They divorced on April 1, 1984.
On April 1, 1987, he married Lynn O'Hare, and had two children, Cassondra (born 1987) and Mac (born 1991), with her. The couple was divorced on April 1, 1993.
From 1994 till 2007, he was in a long-term relationship with Cynthia Wylie. She brought her two children, Alex and Sophia, into the relationship.
He died on January 26, 2012, apparently from a heart attack, at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey. He was then 60 years old.