Ron Palillo wanted to be known as more than Arnold Horshack, to be recognized for the breadth of his career, which spanned 1970s television to New York theater, as an actor, playwright and illustrator, and, finally as a dedicated teacher.
Still, he’d do the laugh if you asked.
“I think he looked at it as a launching-off point for his career, but he was such a wonderful actor, into the more serious stuff,” longtime friend Stacy Sacco said of Horshack, the goofy class cut-up and rebellious Sweathog that Mr. Palillo played on the 1970s series Welcome Back, Kotter, alongside series creator and actor Gabe Kaplan and a young John Travolta.
“He appreciated that it was such an iconic character,” added Sacco. “And he would absolutely do that imitation.”
Mr. Palillo, who died of a heart attack Tuesday morning at his Palm Beach Gardens home at age 63, brought the same charm and enthusiasm to his life and career as he did to his signature role, say all who knew him.
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