Robert Hegyes was a popular American actor who rose to fame for his role as Juan Epstein on the 1970s sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter. He also played detective Manny Esposito on the 1980s crime drama Cagney & Lacey. But did you know that he was also related to one of the most successful rock musicians of all time, Jon Bon Jovi?
The New Jersey connection
Robert Hegyes and Jon Bon Jovi were both born and raised in New Jersey, a state known for its diverse and vibrant culture. Hegyes was born in Perth Amboy, a city with a large Hungarian-American and Italian-American population. His father, Stephen, was of Hungarian descent, while his mother, Marie Dominica Cocozza, was of Italian origin. Hegyes was the oldest of four siblings: Mark, Stephanie, and Elizabeth.
Jon Bon Jovi, whose real name is John Francis Bongiovi Jr., was born in Sayreville, a town about 10 miles away from Perth Amboy. His father, John Francis Bongiovi Sr., was also of Italian descent, while his mother, Carol Sharkey, was of Slovakian and Russian ancestry. Jon Bon Jovi was the second of three children: Anthony and Matthew.
The cousin connection
Robert Hegyes and Jon Bon Jovi were not only from the same state, but also from the same family. They were cousins through their maternal grandmothers, who were sisters. According to Wikipedia, Hegyes once said that he and Bon Jovi grew up in the same house and shared many childhood memories.
Jon Bon Jovi confirmed their cousin relationship in an interview with Larry King in 2007. He said that he and Hegyes were not very close, but they had a mutual respect and admiration for each other’s work. He also revealed that Hegyes had attended his wedding in 1989.
The tribute connection
Robert Hegyes died of a heart attack on January 26, 2012, at the age of 60. He had been suffering from various health problems for years, including thyroid cancer and heart disease. He left behind four children: Cassie, Mac, Alex, and Sophia.
Jon Bon Jovi, who was on tour at the time, paid tribute to his cousin during a concert in Vancouver on January 27, 2012. He dedicated the song “I’ll Be There for You” to Hegyes and his family. He also said that Hegyes was “a good man” and “a great actor”.
Robert Hegyes and Jon Bon Jovi may have had different careers and lifestyles, but they shared a common bond of being New Jersey natives and cousins. They also shared a passion for entertaining people with their talents and charisma. Their family connection is a surprising and fascinating fact that adds more depth to their respective legacies.