Ron Palillo, ‘Welcome Back Kotter’ Actor, Dies at 63

Horshack DeadRon Palillo, the man who played the scene-stealing crazy nerd Arnold Horshack on high school sitcom Welcome Back Kotter, passed away at his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. on Tuesday, according to Today. He was 63.

Palillo’s rep told news media that he had a heart attack and passed away in his sleep. His best known role lasted from 1975-1979 on the iconic show that has aired in reruns fairly consistently since going off the air. In his role as Horshake, Palillo was always crazier than John Travolta’s Italian accent, and the one getting the most resounding roar from the live studio audience. For the past three years, he was teaching drama at a high school in Florida. Things had finally come full circle for Horshack.

Palillo is the second member of the cast to pass away this year. His costar Robert Hegyes died in February.

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After getting his master's degree in poetry, Senior Writer Brian Moylan started writing about television and pop culture for Gawker, The Guardian, The Washington Blade and a few other reputable publications. Brian has an honorary PhD in “Jersey Shore” studies from the University of Chicago. He's shared his often hilarious views about the tube on VH1, MSNBC, TV Guide Channel, MTV (Canada), BBC radio, and NPR. He can usually be found at his apartment in New York yelling at the TV and dodging calls from Real Housewives. He is a Taurus and likes long walks on the beach, fried chicken, and almost every reality television program ever created (especially “The Swan”).