memories of the ’70s – Vinnie Barbarino

In the mid 1970s, a tv character became a household name: Vinnie Barbarino.

Debuting in September 1975, Welcome Back Kotter was an ABC-TV sitcom about a highschool teacher, played by Gabe Kaplan, who dealt with a bunch of unruly unique students in a Bronx highschool.

One of the students was Vinnie Barbarino, played by new to the small screen John Travolta.

As one of the Sweathogs, Barbarino was a loud-mouth with a big ego and a lot of bravado. He was their leader, a heartthrob and had lots of attitude.

He had the curly shaggy hair, the mischievious smile and the tight jeans and denim jacket to lure the girls and show off to his buddies.

His character became incredibly popular with viewers, especially because of his unique swagger, and his unique sayings, like “up your nose with a rubber hose”, “I’m so confused…” and “what? where? why?” his patent response to not wanting to do something.

As he often became love-stricken, accentuating his Italian-American stereotype, he would howl “waahh-ha-ha-howwww…”! And he would always say “but I’m Vinnie Barbarino.”

Everything was said with his particular unique accent, and with a lot of body language – he would swagger, gesture and constantly flip his hair. And viewers loved him.

For this decade, this character became a sex symbol – which certainly didn’t hurt when John Travolta decided to move on to the big screen.


About Waheeda Harris

A pop culture junkie with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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