With the cast...
If you were to go to the Museum of Radio and Television for the audition tapes of Welcome Back, Kotter, you would find a young and beautiful Farrah Fawcett auditioning for Gabe's wife against Marcia Strassman pictured here.
I also remember Gloria Swanson, the great silent movie actress, auditioning for the role of the school superintendent. I sat with her for fifteen minutes beforehand picking her brain about her and Bill Holden in the classic film, "Sunset Boulevard." I was so excited about the possibility of performing with Gloria Swanson. Again, the producers made another choice.
George Carlin did an episode of Welcome Back, Kotter, where he played a disc jockey at a radio station. It's a friendship I keep to this day. I just saw him perform a few weeks ago at the Comedy Store. He is the Godfather of comedy today.
Groucho and Lucy used to come and watch the taping of our show. Groucho was scheduled to appear in an episode of the show. I approached Groucho when he was at NCB visiting in 1976. He recognized me from Kotter because he was a fan. He said, "You remind me of my brothers... you remind me of Chico. You're very funny." I asked him if he'd like to do an episode. He said, "Yes." His words of departure were, "I used to be young once, just like you." I arranged for Groucho to do the opening tease of the show where Gabe was doing a Groucho imitation, and Groucho was to walk down the hall and say, "That's the worst imitation I ever heard." Unfortunately, Erin Fleming, who was his caretaker, refused to let him perform right before the take because his blood pressure was too high. I remember him right before they pulled him away screaming, "I can do this. I can do this." It broke my heart. To this day I have his nameplate that was on his dressing room door. Grouch Marx... my hero.