Actor Ron Palillo, who was best known for his wise cracking role of Arnold Dingfelder Horshack on the television sitcom “Welcome Back Kotter” has died at the age of 63 at his Palm Beach, Florida home on August 14. According to TMZ Palillo died from an apparent heart attack.
While known for his stint as one of Mr. Kottoer’s sweathogs, Palillo also performed on Broadway in such hit shows as “Amadeus”, “Guys and Dolls”, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, “Hot 1 Baltimore”, and “The Last Sweet Day of Isaac”.
For the past three years Palillo has been teaching at a charter school in the West Palm Beach area. The school’s founder Greg Hauptner noted that Palillo’s health wasn’t the greatest; but added Palillo, “was a fantastic teacher. The kids adored him.”
He was born Ronald Gabriel Paolillo in Cheshire, Connecticut on April 2, 1949. When he was 14 years old, Palillo started a successful summer theater in Cheshire. Palillo graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor’s degree in Dramatic Arts.
While displaying an excellent talent for acting; Palillo also showed his abilities as an artist, in script writing, and directing. After college he joined a Shakespeare touring company where he appeared in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Macbeth”, and “The Taming of the Shrew” among others. After a stint with a Repertory company in Miami, Palillo moved to New York where he made his mark on Broadway. Then came the television roles and “Welcome Back Kotter”. After Kotter went off the air, Palillo switched between television and theater until he left acting for teaching.
Often associated with “Welcome Back Kotter”, Palillo appeared in dozens of other roles including his debut in 1976 in “Mr. T and Tina”, 91 episodes of “Welcome Back Kotter”, “Skatetown USA”, “The Love Boat”, “Alice”, “The A-Team”, “ChiPs”, “Murder She Wrote”, “Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI”, “Trapper John, M.D.”, “Cagney and Lacey”, “Superman”, 13 episodes of “Midnight Patrol: Adventures in the Dream Zone”, “One Life to Live”, and his last role in the original work “It’s a Dog Gone Tale: Destiny’s Stand”.
Palillo is survived by his partner of 41 years Joseph Gramm and siblings Ann, Richard and Bobby.