Ron Palillo, Horshack on 'Welcome Back, Kotter,' Dies of Heart Attack at 63 [VIDEOS]
Ooo, Ooo, Ooo, Mr. Kotter, We're Really Sad
Actor Ron Palillo, best known for playing sweet Welcome Back, Kotter high school student Arnold Horshack, died early Tuesday morning at his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He was 63.
Palillo died suddenly at 4:30 a.m., reports The Palm Beach Post, while TMZ.com reports that Palillo suffered an unexpected heart attack and was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
TMZ.com also reports that Palillo, who was an acting teacher at the G-Star School of the Arts in Florida, seemed to be in good health, but was a heavy smoker who had recently suffered from a heavy cough and was scheduled to see a doctor today.
Stacy Sacco, Palillo's friend of more than 20 years, told the Palm Beach Post, "He just couldn't have been more fun and intelligent or talented. He was an amazing human being … He was a shining star."
Palillo was born in Cheshire, Connecticut in 1949, and had lived in New York for nearly 40 years before moving to Florida a few years ago.
He is survived by his partner of more than 40 years, retired actor Joseph Gramm.
Palillo, who also made appearances on TV favorites like The Love Boat, CHiPs, The A-Team, Alice, Murder, She Wrote, Cagney & Lacey and One Life to Live, was one of the most beloved members of the Sweathogs, the Brooklyn high school students at the center of the 1975-79 ABC sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter. Among Horshack's catchphrases: "Ooo, ooo, ooo!" "G'ahead, g'ahead" and "That was ver-y impressive, Mister Kot-ter!"
The show was based on the real-life high school experiences of actor Gabe Kaplan, who played titular teacher Mr. Kotter.
Kotter is responsible for helping launch the career of a pre-Saturday Night Fever John Travolta.
Another Kotter alum, Robert Hegyes, who played tough guy Juan "I got a note!" Epstein, died at age 60 in January after suffering a heart attack.
Watch the videos below for two great Arnold Horshack moments with Ron Palillo: