Sad news for fans of Welcome Back, Kotter who fondly remember the character Horshack, this afternoon — Ron Palillo, the actor who played the supporting role has died at the age of 63.
Although Palillo was probably best remembered for his Horshack portrayal (“Oooh! Oooh! Mistah Kotter!”), the actor did some other work in his later years. In addition to work on the classic sitcom Laverne & Shirley, Palillo also did voice work on Darkwing Duck.
According to TMZ, Palillo’s death was “very unexpected,” and the actor had scheduled a doctor’s appointment about a cough for later today. The site says:
“We’re told Palillo was found by his partner of many years Joseph Gramm around 4:00 AM. Gramm called an ambulance and Palillo was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead… According to one of Palillo’s colleagues at G-Star School of the Arts, Palillo had appeared to be in good health… but was a heavy smoker. We’re told he had been suffering from a bad cough and had even scheduled a doctor’s appointment for today.”
2012 has not been a good year for the health of Welcome Back, Kotter alums, and Palillo is not the only notable actor on the show to pass away in the past few months. Earlier this year Robert Hegyes — the actor who played one of the other main characters on Welcome Back, Kotter, Juan Epstein — passed away earlier this year, also after a heart attack.
Was Horshack your favorite character on the classic TV hit Welcome Back, Kotter?