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“We tend to forget that before Travolta was Tony Manero, he was Vinny Barbarino. With Horshack, Epstein and Freddy Boom Boom Washington. Hey Mr. Kotter, I don't want to tell you how
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Welcome Back, Kotter
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Having previously built the popular situation comedy Chico and the Man around the monologues of standup comic Freddie Prinze, producer James Komack followed the same formula in fashioning a sitcom vehicle for another "hot" comic, Gabriel Kaplan. Debuting September 9, 1975 on ABC, Welcome Back Kotter was co-created (with Allan Sacks) by Kaplan, inspired by the routines he'd performed about his own experience while attending a remedial high school class in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. One of his teachers care enough to spur Kaplan to improve himself, and the comedian dedicated his series to that person. Kaplan starred as teacher Gabe Kotter, who, ten years after graduating from Brooklyn's James Buchanan High School, returned to his alma mater to take over the "sweathog" class, comprised of underachievers who'd been written off as "hopeless" by vice principal Michael Woodman (John Sylvester White). Having once been a "sweathog" himself, Kotter empathized with his students, and used a variety of unorthodox but effective techniques to teach them history and social studies, and to curb their enthusiasms in his home-room class. Meanwhile, Mr. Woodman did everything he could to undermine Kotter, whom he still remembered as one of Buchanan's biggest (and funniest) troublemakers. Each episode opened with Kotter telling a joke about his family to his loyal wife Julie (Marcia Strassman), then segued into a session with the Sweathogs. The self-appointed leader of the class was ...
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