Starting his career as a stand-up comic, Gabe Kaplan gained international acclaim as Mr. Kotter on Welcome Back Kotter.  Based on his routines, it was the series that introduced Vinnie Barbarino aka John Travolta to the world.   This was before Scientology and before Saturday Night Fever.

For a few seasons, Gabe taught the Sweat-hogs life lessons as he taught Social Studies class.  Eventually, John left then Gabe left and Marcia Strassman was taxed with taking over the classroom.  It was a show full of catch phrases such as “Up your nose with a rubber hose.”

During the run of the show, Kaplan would tell a joke that had to do with one of his relatives.  It always started off with “Did I ever tell you about…?”  After a few seasons, it became obvious that Mr Kotter had a VERY LARGE family.

In this clip you can see Kaplan doing stand-up on an episode of The Midnight Special in 1976. If that sounds dated, you don’t know the half of it: he does jokes about Ed Sullivan.

Since leaving television sitcoms, Gabe took on the financial world and the markets.   He also took up the mantle of competition poker player.  In 1980, he won the main event in the Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker.  As of 2009, it is estimated that he won $1.3 million playing cards.  We have to assume it wasn’t penny-nickle-dime games.

Today, Gabe is back on the road doing stand-up and being a commentator on Poker for different networks.  It must be a better gig than hanging out with Arnold Horshack and Freddy “Boom-boom” Washington.


1 Comment

  1. Gene McGuire on 04/04/2013 at 12:43 pm

    As I was beginning my standup comedy career, I was the house emcee at a Dallas comedy club. I got to open for many famous comics back in the early 80s. Gabe Kaplan was one of the comedians I opened for. Having been a fan of his standup, years before he was Kotter, I was excited to work with him. He was so smoothe onstage and was very personable off stage.

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