Show Type: Sitcom
First Telecast: September 9, 1975
Last Telecast: August 10, 1979
Theme Music: "Welcome Back," composed and performed by John Sebastian
Gabe Kotter..... Gabriel Kaplan
Julie Kotter..... Marcia Strassman
Vinnie Barbarino..... John Travolta
Juan Luis Pedro Phillipo de Huevos Epstein..... Robert Hegyes
Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington..... Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs
Arnold Horshack..... Ron Palillo
Mr. Michael Woodman..... John Sylvester White
Rosalie Totzie (1975-1976)..... Debralee Scott
Verna Jean (1975-1977)..... Vernee Watson
Judy Borden (1975-1977)..... Helaine Lembeck
Todd Ludlow (1975-1977)..... Dennis Bowen
Maria (1975-1976)..... Catarina Cellino
Angie Globagoski (1978)..... Melonie Haller
Beau De Labarre (1978-1979)..... Stephen Shortridge
Carvelli (1978-1979)..... Charles Fleischer
Murray (1978-1979)..... Bob Harcum
Mary Johnson (1978-1979)..... Irene Arranga
Gabe Kotter was a Brooklyn-born teacher who returned to the inner-city high school he had graduated from 10 years earlier to teach the toughest students - a remedial academics group.
Gabe's "sweathogs" were the outcasts of the academic system - streetwise but unable (or unwilling) to make it in normal classrooms. They were the toughest, and also the funniest, kids in school. Gabe was just as cool as they were and with total disregard for rules and a sense of humor, he set out to help them achieve a little bit of academic knowledge during their years at James Buchanan High.
The four original "sweathogs" were: Epstein, the Jewish Puerto Rican; "Boom Boom," the tall, cool black guy; Horshack, the class clown and Barbarino, the ultra-cool, tough leader.
John Travolta, playing Barbarino, became a major star through this series. He expanded his abilities into pop music, where he had several hits beginning in the summer of 1976. He also began a successful movie career, with such films as "Saturday Night Fever" and "Carrie" being filmed while he still worked on the show.
Many other students passed through with the group, if only briefly. They included all of the names mentioned above in the "Cast" section. Julie, Gabe's wife, became pregnant at the end of the 1976-1977 season and gave birth to twins Rachel and Robin in the fall of 1977. This only added to the strain of a small apartment and Gabe's limited income. Mr. Woodman was the assistant principal. Angie turned up in 1978 thus becoming the first female "sweathog" and a slick southerner named Beau joined the class in the fall.Also in the fall of 1978, Kotter was promoted to vice principal and Mr. Woodman to principal. The sweathogs got part-time jobs, with Vinnie becoming an orderly at a nearby hospital.
Welcome Back, Kotter was based on real high school experiences of Gabe Kaplan. He had once attended the equivalent of James Buchanan High School in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York, and had been a student in a remedial class there. He credits Miss Shepard for inspiring him and caring about her "unteachable" students.
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