R.I.P. Amy Johnston, Vinnie Barbarino's love on Welcome Back, Kotter

She also played Buddy Holly's girlfriend in The Buddy Holly Story.

Warner Bros. Television

The Sweathogs formed a singing group. They called themselves Three Do's and a Don't. The guys put on matching bedazzled denim outfits for a city talent contest in season three of Welcome Back, Kotter. Things are going swell for Barbarino, Horshack, Epstein and Washington… until Barbarino falls for Cassy, a blonde competitor.

This love affair happened in "Barbarino in Love," in the fall of 1977. The two-part episode aired just weeks before Saturday Night Fever hit theaters. Naturally, John Travolta was given the opportunity to sing and dance. Travolta even does the iconic "V across the eyes" move when dancing that he would do in Pulp Fiction decades later. But Barbarino's love threatens to upend Three Do's and a Don't. Vinnie briefly quits the group, unwilling to compete against his crush.

Playing Cassy was Amy Johnston, who was making her screen debut with this sitcom. She used her singing skills to land guest roles on television. Two years later, she popped up on Charlie's Angels in "Angels on the Street," singing a tune called "If I Could See" in the opening scene.

That same year, Johnston landed a lead role in Brothers and Sister, a sitcom about frats and sororities that was blatantly capitalizing on the popularity of Animal House. She played a snobby sister named Mary Lee, who in one episode must babysit a chimpanzee. The series, which premiered following the Super Bowl, lasted one season.

Everett CollectionJohnston in 'Brothers and Sisters'

Johnston played an entirely different sort of sister in Sister Terri, a 1978 pilot that paired her with Pam Dawber (Mork & Mindy). That show was not picked up. 

Nevertheless, her career peaked that year, when Johnston played Cindy Lou, the first love of Buddy Holly (Gary Busey) in The Buddy Holly Story. Her character was the inspiration behind his song "Cindy Lou," which eventually became "Peggy Sue."

Her Hollywood career dried up in the 1980s, outside of a couple of guest appearances on Highway to Heaven and Cagney & Lacey. Later, she lived in Arkansas, where she taught drama. On March 17, she died in her West Fork, Arkansas, home according to The Hollywood Reporter. She was 66.

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15inchBlackandWhite 38 months ago
Sad. She was a pretty lady. 66 is not particularly old these days.
cperrynaples 39 months ago
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't she in a Friday the 13th? I'm thinking either 2 or 3!
cperrynaples cperrynaples 39 months ago
Fun Fact: It was on the basis of Sister Terri that Pam Dawber was cast on M&M! She didn't even meet Robin Williams until she was signed!
SharonAnnValen 39 months ago
May she rest in peace. Loved Welcome Back Kotter. Hard to believe this mush time as passed
jacko3 39 months ago
Amy Johnston, May GOD Bless her soul & Eternal Life - Amen - Alleluia!
retired2019 39 months ago
R. I. P. Amy. I do remember her on Cagney and Lacey. I would love to see that series on METV
Tresix retired2019 39 months ago
It’s currently being shown on Start TV.
cperrynaples 39 months ago
There were 3 Animal House sitcoms, one at each network and each with their own background story! ABC had Delta House,which directly came from the movie and even had 4 of the stars. Fun Fact: Michelle Pfeiffer got her first big break as a character known simply as the Bombshell. Brothers & Sisters was on NBC, and it featured Chris Lemmon [Jack's son] and Mary Crosby, the answer to 1980's big question: "Who Shot JR?" For me, the best story is Co-Ed Fever on CBS, which debuted after the network premiere of Rocky, but lost so many viewers, it became a one and done show!
MrsPhilHarris cperrynaples 39 months ago
I don’t remember any of those shows.
Barry22 cperrynaples 39 months ago
Michelle Pfeiffer was the only good thing about Delta House, that was a terrible show. The other shows I never heard of.
jeopardyhead cperrynaples 39 months ago
I remember TV Guide doing a story on those shows that was titled "Send in the Clones."
cperrynaples jeopardyhead 39 months ago
Yes, Ricardo Montebaun[sp?} was on the cover and the cartoon was 3 mini-Blutos!
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