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Ron Palillo, Horshack, Passed Away at 63

Submitted by on August 14, 2012 – 11:52 am Comments

Ron PalilloRon Palillo, Horshack on “Welcome Back, Kotter,” died this morning from a heart attack at his home near West Palm Beach, Florida. Palillo was found by his partner, Joseph Gramm, around 4 AM. Gramm called 911 and Palillo was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead around 4:30 AM. Palillo was 63 years old.

The heart attack was unexpected as Palillo had previously appeared to be in good health. He was, however, a very heavy smoker and had been suffering from a cough. He had an appointment today with his doctor to check out his cough.

When he was only 14 years old Palillo started his own summer theater company in Cheshire, Connecticut. After high school, Palillo attended the University of Connecticut at Storrs, and majored in drama. After he graduated, He began touring with a company that performed Shakespeare’s plays. After the tour, Palillo became a member of a repertory company in Miami, Florida. When he arrived in New York, he quickly got roles in off-Broadway shows. His role in the off-Broadway show “Hot L Baltimore” directly led to a lead role in a television musical “The Last Sweet Days of Isaac.”

Palillo was known as one of the Sweathogs on “Welcome Back, Kotter.” He starred with John Travolta from 1975 to 1979. After “Kotter,” Palillo also appeared on “Laverne & Shirley” and even did voiceovers for a character on “Darkwing Duck,” a Disney cartoon. In 1996 Palillo played himself in a few episodes of the hit show, Ellen. He was a love interest of Ellen’s friend Audrey.

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Palillo returned to teach at the University of Connecticut during the late 1990′s. Palillo’s first full length play, “The Lost Boy” was produced in 2005 in New York State. The play was the true story of Peter Pan and author J.M. Barrie. In 2007 he launched a clothing line that specialized in limited edition t-shirts that were produced by Rotter and Friends.Ron Palillo as Horshack

Palillo was more recently a teacher at G-star School of the Arts for Motion Pictures and Broadcasting, a charter school for the arts. Palillo’s students were mostly 13-14 year old kids who had not known about “Welcome Back, Kotter.” According to the school’s founder, the students all went back and watched nearly every episode of the 70′s show. Apparently Palillo loved it.

Another fellow “Kotter”star Robert Hegyes passed away in January this year at the age of 60 after suffering a heart attack.

Keaven Neely

Keaven is a stay at home mother of two little girls. She writes her blog This Mama Is Crazy and also sells her arts and crafts on her Etsy site. Writer of “The No BS Zone”

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