Last year, two-time Oscar champ Tom Hanks (“Philadelphia,” “Forrest Gump”) took to the stage of the TV Land Awards with the rest of the “Bosom Buddies” cast to accept an award. This year, two-time Oscar nominee John Travolta (“Saturday Night Fever,” “Pulp Fiction”) was on hand with the gang from “Welcome Back, Kotter.” This year’s kudos took place on April 10 at New York’s Javits Center and aired on the cablecaster Sunday.
It is 35 years since Travolta became a teen idol as one of the misfits taught by Mr. Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) in this ABC laffer. The show was an instant hit with the public — winning Favorite New Program at the 1976 People’s Choice Awards — and even contended for Best Comedy at that year’s Emmys, losing to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
At the podium, Kaplan — a co-creator of the comedy classic — explained the lasting appeal of the series: “It just worked because everybody at every school — not only in America and Canada, but all over the world — there was a Horshack, and Epstein, a Washington, and a Barbarino.” In turn, Travolta thanked Kaplan, “for creating this show and putting us all on the map” and concluded, “after 35 years, I wondered what Barbarino would be doing, and he’s standing here tonight very proud to be here.”
Other honorees included Regis Philbin (Legend Award), “The Cosby Show” (Impact Award), “Family Ties” (Fan Favorite Award) and “The Facts of Life” (Pop Culture Award).