I'm saddened to report that we lost Ron Palillo in Palm Beach County, Florida today. The 63 year old actor suffered a heart attack at his home.
Ronald Gabriel "Ron" Palillo was born on April 2, 1949 in Cheshire, Connecticut. He was of Italian descent. Palillo graduated from the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where he returned to teach during the late 1990s.
Palillo was perhaps best known for his role as high school student Arnold Dingfelder Horshack on the ABC sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, which aired from 1975 to 1979. His Kotter costar Robert Hegyes this past January 26.
After Welcome Back, Kotter, Palillo appeared in supporting roles in various television series and performed the voice in various animated series such as Laverne & Shirley in the Army, Darkwing Duck, and Rubik, the Amazing Cube where he played the lead character. In 1996, Palillo played himself in several episodes of Ellen, where he became the love interest of Ellen's friend Audrey. He also played a small part in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.
Outside of acting, Palillo was also an artist, having provided the art for two children's books: The Red Wings of Christmas and A Gift for the Contessa. He is credited on these as "Ronald G. Paolillo", which he used in memory of his father.
Palillo returned to New York in 1991, and played roles as Mozart in Amadeus, George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls. He also appeared in The Curse of Micah Rood. He appeared on Broadway in 2008 in Broadway Backwards 4, a charity event for people with AIDS.
In 1996, Palillo hosted a promotional event in New York City's Grand Central Terminal, where he and actors dressed in 1970s clothing distributed special MetroCards publicizing a week of 1970s programming on VH1 to passing commuters. In 2007, he introduced a new clothing line specializing in limited-edition t-shirts produced by Rotter and Friends.