UPDATE: John Travolta just released this statement about Ron to Hollyscoop: “Ron was a wonderful person and talent. And helped catapult Welcome Back Kotter to great success. We will miss him.”
It’s a sad day for anyone that grew up on ‘70s television.
Ron Palillo, the actor best known for his goofy role as Horshack on the long running series “Welcome Home, Kotter,” died early Tuesday.
The Palm Beach Post, of Palm Beach, Florida, where Palillo’s house is located, confirms the news with the late actor’s friend Stacy Sacco.
“He just couldn’t have been more fun and intelligent or talented. He was an amazing human being,” said Sacco. “I had been a fan. We all knew who he was. He was a shining star.”
Palillo passed away at 4:30 a.m. He was 63 years old.
According the Palm Beach Post, the actor was in good health and had not been ill or in the hospital. No official cause of death has been determined, though apparent heart attack due to heavy smoking has been alluded to by other sources.
“Welcome Back, Kotter” was a comedy series that ran from 1975 to 1979 about a go-getter teacher who returns to his inner city school high school to energize a group of trouble-making students. Palillo’s character Arnold Horshack was the awkward class clown who appeared in all but one of the series’ 91 episodes. The show also starred big names like John Travolta and Gabe Kaplan.
Other than “Kotter,” Palillo appeared in a number of series, including “The Love Boat,” “The A-Team,” and “Murder, She Wrote.”
More or less retired from the business, Palillo had been teaching acting classes at the G-Star School of the Arts in Palm Springs for about three years. Prior to Florida, he lived in New York for 40 years.
Palillo is survived by Joseph Gramm, his partner of 41 years.