By Associated Press
January 26, 2012 at 12:00 PM EST

The actor best known for playing Jewish Puerto Rican student Juan Epstein on the 1970s TV show Welcome Back Kotter has died.

The Flynn & Son Funeral Home in Fords, N.J., says it was informed of Robert Hegyes’ death Thursday by the actor’s family. He was 60.

A spokesman at JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J., told the Star-Ledger newspaper that Hegyes, of Metuchen, arrived at the hospital in the morning in full cardiac arrest and died.

Hegyes was appearing on Broadway in 1975 when he auditioned for Kotter, a TV series about a teacher who returns to the inner-city school of his youth to teach a group of remedial students. They included the character Vinnie Barbarino, played by John Travolta.

Hegyes appeared on many other TV series, including Cagney & Lacey.