A resident of Metuchen, N.J., Hegyes arrived at JFK Medical Center in nearby Edison in full cardiac arrest and died there, hospital spokesman Steven Weiss confirmed.
Of Hungarian and Italian descent, Hegyes was born May 7, 1951, in Perth Amboy, N.J. He graduated from what is now Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J., and worked as a substitute teacher between acting jobs before landing the part in "Welcome Back, Kotter."
After the show ended, he played Chico Marx onstage in a national touring production of "Groucho" with Kaplan in the title role. Hegyes later had a recurring part as Det. Manny Esposito on the 1980s TV police drama "Cagney and Lacey," did stand-up comedy and tried writing screenplays.
But he would be best remembered for "Welcome Back, Kotter."
"It's a job where I went to work and laughed every day," he told The Times in 1995. "So how do you beat that?"
-- Los Angeles Times staff reports