Gabe Kaplan went from ‘Kotter’ to poker stardom

. July 3, 2014.
mliving_where
By Marshall Jay Kaplan 
“Up your nose with a rubber hose!” Almost 40 years ago, Gabe Kaplan was known as Mr. Kotter, a sitcom teacher who was quick with a joke and bantered with his “Sweathog” students. These days, he is simply known as the guy who knows how to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. Gabe Kaplan was born in Brooklyn, NY, on March 31, 1945. His original aspiration in life was to become a major league baseball player … but ended up as a stand-up comedian. Go figure! Kaplan made name for himself in the late 1960s, and by the early 70s enjoyed success with his stand-up routines about growing up in Brooklyn. He landed some big-time television gigs—including five appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. It was this stand-up “schitck” that led him to his iconic TV role. Welcome Back, Kotter debuted in 1975 and became an overnight hit. Kaplan played teacher, Gabe Kotter who returned to teach at his old high school. His class ended up being a bunch of dysfunctional students, called “The Sweathogs,” which consisted of Juan Epstein, Freddie Boom-Boom Washington, Arnold Horseshack and Vinnie Barbarino (played by break-out star John Travolta). The series lasted until 1979 and spawned many catchphrases, such as “Did I ever tell you about my Uncle…?”; “Up your nose with a rubber hose!”; “Ooooooh! Oooooh! Ooooooh! Mr Kotter!”; “What? Where? Why?”; “I gotta letter from my mother,” and, “Hey, Mr. Koh-taire!” After Kotter ended, Kaplan recalls, “I would have loved to have kept on being a TV star, but I was going through the normal transition of a celebrity who’s in decline goes through—third or fourth billing on sitcom, game show panel, etc. You try to do your best to get back on top, taking whatever is offered to you. I didn’t want that.” Instead, Gabe starred in the 1979 film Fast Break, and portrayed Groucho Marx in a successful one-man stage show. Kaplan became involved in the world of poker during his last few years on Kotter. By 1980, he was considered one of poker’s elite, winning the Amarillo Slims Super Bowl of Poker. More than thirty years later, Kaplan is one of the world’s greatest poker players. His total tournament winnings in 2009 alone were just under $2 million. Kaplan can often be seen as a TV commentator or host of live poker tournaments. In 2010, Kaplan published a book about his comedic e-mail pranks, “Kotter’s Back–Emails from a Faded TV Celebrity,” where he shares fake and funny email replies to various people who tried to contact him and offer him celebrity roles. Today, Kaplan lives in the Los Angeles area and looks back fondly at his Kotter days. “Whenever I hear the famous theme song, it brings back memories. You think about the show or a particular night when we were filming. It’s definitely a part of my life,” he said.

Trending

MSTORYTELLING: Visiting Gigi’s house

  A first time grandma reflects on the changes a baby brings to holiday family gatherings  By Lisa Alleman Thanksgiving 2018.  We gather around my dining room table to eat our turkey dinner with urgency. Unlike other years, the turkey is not the main event. My daughter, who is 5 months pregnant with our first

Thanksgiving Day Roundup 2020: All the Good Eats, None of the Hassle

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash We all know that cooking your own Thanksgiving dinner can be a bit stressful at times. Luckily, there are other options for both dine-in and pick-up if you want to skip the laborious work and relax with your family and friends. We’ve put together a list of some of

Quarantined and Disconnected: COVID-19’s effects on those with disabilities

Senior citizens and others with conditions that render them especially susceptible to COVID-19 aren’t just struggling because of the potential for contracting the virus — the isolation from months of lost social interaction has been devastating for many. Assisted living facilities, highly regulated, controlled environments when it comes to social isolation, finally allowed visitation with

HELPING OLDER ADULTS AVOID ISOLATION AND LONELINESS 

As winter sets in, isolation increases for older adults, but there are ways to limit loneliness.  In a year that has been defined by isolation, loneliness may increase in the next few months as flu season, cold weather and a possible uptick in COVID-19 become the norm.  It seems likely that many holiday activities will