In the 70s, Welcome Back Kotter was a beloved sitcom that starred John Travolta early in his career. After more than 40 years, the cast has changed quite a bit. In this video, we’re taking a look at the Welcome Back Kotter cast then and now to see how they’ve changed through the years.
00:00 – Intro
0:19 – Gabe Kaplan as Gabe Kotter
1:24 – John Travolta as Vinnie Barbarino
2:29 – Marcia Strassman as Julie Kotter
3:34 – Robert Hegyes as Juan Epstein
4:39 – John Sylvester White as Michael Woodman
5:40 – Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs as Freddie ‘Boom Boom’ Washington
6:45 – Ron Palillo as Arnold Horshack
The show stars stand-up comedian and actor Gabriel "Gabe" Kaplan as the title character, Gabe Kotter, a wisecracking teacher who returns to his alma mater, James Buchanan High School in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York, to teach a remedial class of loafers, called "Sweathogs." The rigid vice principal, Michael Woodman (John Sylvester White), dismisses the Sweathogs as witless hoodlums, and only expects Kotter to contain them until they drop out or are otherwise banished. As a former remedial student, and a founding member of the original class of Sweathogs, Kotter befriends the current Sweathogs and stimulates their potential. A pupil-teacher rapport is formed, and the students often visit Kotter’s Bensonhurst apartment, sometimes via the fire-escape window, much to the chagrin of his wife, Julie (Marcia Strassman).
Welcome Back, Kotter’s first season was controversial. In Boston, the local ABC affiliate (WCVB-TV) initially refused to air the show. The city was going through a tumultuous school busing program that involved widespread protests and riots, and the local affiliate felt Kotter’s fictional integrated classroom would exacerbate the situation. The show became an early ratings success, however, and the affiliate relented, picking it up from its fifth episode.
Teachers in other cities had concerns about how Kotter would be portrayed, so producers allowed a union representative on the set to ensure the show protected the image of those in the profession. Kaplan opposed the idea, at one point asking a reporter if there was a junkman on the set of Sanford and Son to protect the reputation of junkmen.
Censor concerns about depiction of juvenile delinquency faded after the Sweathogs’ antics proved to be silly rather than criminal. Like Kaplan, Hegyes was a fan of the Marx Brothers. Hegyes claimed that he suggested that the Sweathogs be modeled after the Marx Brothers in order to reduce tension.
Ratings slipped greatly in the third season. Kaplan later attributed the decline to the age of the actors playing the Sweathogs, all then in their mid- to late-twenties, claiming that they were no longer believable as high school students. His idea was to have Kotter join the faculty of a community college attended by the Sweathogs; however, this storyline never materialized. In order to increase viewership, the Kotters had twin girls, but this did not prove to be enough to regain the show’s earlier momentum. The show introduced a female Sweathog, Angie Grabowski, played by Melonie Haller.
Major changes took place in the fourth and final season. Shortly before the season began, the series was moved from its successful Thursday 8:00 p.m. time slot to Monday 8:00 p.m. to make way for the impending hit series Mork & Mindy. Virtually the entire writing staff was fired after season 3, and replaced with veteran writers from family-based series (such as Bob Claver from Leave It to Beaver and The Munsters). Travolta, who had already starred in box office hits such as Grease, Saturday Night Fever, and Carrie, began to focus more time on his film career. He appeared in ten episodes, earning $2,000 for each one, and he was billed as a "special guest star". Mr. Woodman was promoted to Principal of the school (Principal Lazarus quit to take a "less stressful" job at a high-security prison), and Kotter was promoted to Vice-Principal, purposefully moving the show’s focus away from Kotter’s class. Major off-screen disputes led Kaplan to break his contract and reduce his appearances. To help fill the voids, Stephen Shortridge joined the cast as smooth-talking Southerner Beau De LaBarre, and Kotter’s wife, Julie, became a school secretary and occasional fill-in teacher, despite having one-year-old twin daughters.
Knowing the series was in a nosedive, producer James Komack attempted to spin-off a newly married Arnold Horshack into a new sitcom.
Original Author: Produced by Facts Verse and published on 23/02/2021 Source