Aug 14, 2012

In Memory of Ron Palillo (aka. Arnold Horshack)

Ronald Gabriel Palillo was born April 2nd 1949 in Cheshire, Connecticut. He was an Italian / American who pursued acting. He first attending the University of Connecticut where he later returned to as a teacher.

Palillo will always be remembered as Sweat Hog, Arnold Horshack on the classic 1970's sit com (& one of centerfieldmaz's fav all time shows) Welcome Back Kotter (1975-1979).

Horshack was the curly haired Sweat Hog, who had the unforgettable nasal hyena sounding laugh. Palillo said he got the idea for the laugh when he remembered his father laughing that way while struggling with lung cancer. 

Arnold was famous for raising his hand in class when he was to answer a question & shout out "Ooh Ooh Ooh!!" This was very similar to Joe E. Ross' character in the classic Car 54 Where Are You? TV show from the early sixties.  

Horshack was a strange fellow with a strange outlook on life & could only fit in with the Sweat Hogs. Arnold once advanced out of the Sweat Hogs "slower" classes to remedial classes but soon returned to Kotters class because he felt out of place.

He said he enjoyed old musicals & acting as well. Arnold claimed his family name Horshack meant " the cattle are dying". He would introduce himself with a slow nasal " Hullo (pause), How wah Ya (pase) I'm Ahhnold HORshack....." & compliment Mr. Kotter by saying "Ve-ry impressive- Mr. Kotter".  Eventually he gets married later on in the series.


Former cast members said of him on his passing:

Gabe Kaplin: "When Ron walked into the audition and did his first line, 'Hello, how are you, I'm Arnold Horshack,' I said 'That's him, That's the guy,'"

John Travolta: "Ron was a wonderful person and talent, and helped catapult 'Welcome Back, Kotter' to great success, We will miss him."


After the Welcome Back Kotter Series, he had trouble finding work outside the Horshack role. He did some TV work as a guest in shows like;  Love Boat / Cagney & Lacey & the A Team. He also did voice work on some TV series including the cartoon- Laverne & Shirley join the army!

He played on the TV series Ellen in 1996 & also did acting on Broadway (Amadeus, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf & Guys & Dolls). He also was an artist who supplied artwork for two children's books & taught acting classes.

On August 14th 2012 Palillo suffered a heart attack and passed away in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He was 63.

Palillo was the second Welcome Back Kotter, Sweat Hog to pass away this year; Robert Hegyes (Juam Epstien) passed away in January. http://www.centerfieldmaz.com/2012/01/centerfieldmaz-remembers-actor-robert.html

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