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Ron Palillo, 'Horshack' on 'Welcome Back, Kotter' dies

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 15th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Wearing scarves and caps well into the summertime, Ron Palillo, as high school student "Horshack" on the popular TV sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter" was a likeable nerd who would get attention by raising his hand and saying, "Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!" The remarkable thing is that Palillo was playing a high school student, and was the same age of the actor playing his teacher, Gabe Kaplan. Palillo passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack this week at the age of 63.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Palillo was found by his partner of many years. The actor had been teaching acting for film and camera for three years at a charter school for the arts.

"These were 13-, 14-year-old kids [he was teaching], and they didn't know 'Welcome Back, Kotter,'" Greg Hauptner, founder and CEO of G-Star Academy told newspaper reporters. "They watched just about every episode. It drove him crazy, but he loved every minute of it."

Palillo also wrote a play, "The Lost Boy," was artistic director at Palm Beach's Cuillo Center for the Arts, and had numerous theater roles including the off-Broadway production of Lanford Wilson's "Hot L Baltimore."

"RIP Ron Palillo - Horshack," tweeted Rain Pryor, daughter of Richard Pryor. "I used to impersonate him on stage when my dad or mom performed stand up. I was 5."

Palillo's colleagues at that G-Star School of the Arts, said that Palillo had appeared to be in good health, but was a heavy smoker. He had been reportedly suffering from a bad cough and had even scheduled a doctor's appointment on the day he died.

Palillo was known as just one of the "Sweathogs" on the show, in which he appeared on with John Travolta from 1975 to 1979. "Kotter" detailed the life of an inner city high school.

Palillo found TV work in "Laverne & Shirley" and voiced a character on the Disney cartoon, "Darkwing Duck."

Palillo's "Kotter" co-star Robert Hegyes, who played Epstein passed away earlier this year after suffering a heart attack.

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