Friday, January 27, 2012

James Farentino and Robert Hegyes R.I.P.

James Farentino

Prolific actor James Farentino passed on 24 January 2012 at the age of 73 after a lengthy illness.

James Farentino was born on 24 Feburary 1938 in Brooklyn, New York. He trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He made his debut on Broadway in The Night of the Iguana. In 1962 he made his television debut in The Naked City. He made his motion picture debut in 1963 in Violent Midnight. He appeared extensively on television in the Sixties, in such shows as The Defenders, 77 Sunset Strip, Route 66, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Ben Casey, Laredo, The VirginianThe F.B.I., Run For Your Life, The Fugitive, and Ironside. He was a regular on The Bold Ones: The Lawyers. He appeared in such films as Ensign Pulver (1964), The War Lord (1965), The Pad and How to Use It (1966), Banning (1967), Rosie! (1967), Me Natalie (1969), and Story of a Woman (1970).

In 1973 he returned to Broadway in a revival of A Streetcar Named Desire and in 1975 in a revival of Death of a Salesman. In the Seventies he appeared on such TV shows as Rod Serling's Night Gallery, and Police Story. He was a regular on Cool Million. He appeared in the film The Final Countdown (1980).   In the Eighties he was a regular on Dynasty, Blue Thunder, Sins, and Mary. He appeared in the movies Dead and Buried (1981) and Her Alibi (1989). In the Nineties he was a regular on Julie. He appeared on the shows E.R. and Melrose Place. In the Naughts he appeared in the film Women of the Night (2001).

While Mr. Farentino had a troubled personal life, he was a fairly good actor. He played a wide variety of roles, ranging from hard working lawyers to abusive husbands. He did all of them convincingly.

Robert Hegyes

Robert Hegyes, best known for playing Epstein on Welcome Back Kotter, passed on 26 January 2012 at the age of 60. The cause was a heart attack.

Robert Hegyes was born 7 May 1951 in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. He grew up in Metuchen, New Jersey. He received a degree in speech, theatre, and dance at Glassboro State College in Glassboro, New Jersey. After college he moved to New York to pursue a career in acting. He was performing in an off Broadway play, Don't Call Back, when he was cast on Welcome Back, Kotter. He appeared on the series for four years. In the Seventies he also guest starred on The Streets of San Francisco and Chico and the Man. He appeared in the film Just Tell Me You Love Me (1978). In the Eighties he was a regular on Cagney and Lacey. He appeared on the series Lewis & Clark and CHIPS. He also appeared in the movie Underground Aces (1981).  In the Nineties Mr. Hegyes appeared in the movies Bob Roberts (1992) and The Pandora Project (1998). He appeared on the shows L. A. Heat, NewsRadio, and Diagnosis Murder. In the Naughts he appeared in the films Pupose (2002) and Hip, Edgy, Sexy, Cool (2002).

He also taught at Venice High School in California.

Robert Hegyes created two memorable characters on television. Epstein on Welcome Back, Kotter was a teenage Sgt. Bilko with a penchant for forging absence excuses. Manny Epsoito on Cagney & Lacey was a freewheeling detective who took a somewhat informal approach to his job. That people remember both characters, that Mr. Hegyes was mourned a good deal on both Twitter and Facebook, is a tribute to his career as an actor. While his career was not necessarily long or prolific, he accomplished something only a very few actors did. He left a lasting mark in the lives of many fans.

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