Ron Palillo, the man who became famous as Horshack on the 1970s high school sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, died this morning at his home near Palm Beach, FL.
According to TMZ, “someone close to the actor” said that Palillo died from an apparent heart attack; that information has not been confirmed yet. Palillo was 63.
Palillo is survived by his partner of 41 years, Joseph Gramm, a retired actor. Gramm reportedly called an ambulance at around 4:00AM and Palillo was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
On Welcome Back, Kotter, Palillo played one of the Sweathogs, a gang of good-hearted juvenile delinquents who bettered themselves due to the actions of Mr. Kotter, their wise-cracking teacher (played by Gabe Kaplan). While the most famous actor to come off the show was John Travolta, Horshack’s signature, “Ooh ooh ooh, Mr. Kotter!” became the most well-known phrase from the program. Welcome Back, Kotter ran from 1975-79.
Most recently, Palillo had been teaching acting classes at G-Star School of the Arts, a charter school in West Palm Beach, for about three years.