Tuesday, August 14, 2012

'Welcome Back Kotter' Lost Another Sweathog

Ron Palillo, made famous by the television hit sitcom Welcome Back Kotter, died earlier today from an apparent heart attack in his home in near Palm Beach, Florida. He was 63.

Palillo's portrayal of Arnold Horshack was one of the most endearing and hilarious performances on television. For all the academically and socially challenged geeks and nerds shunned in school, Horshack was their avatar.  Likely to be bullied by the likes of a Barbarino, Washington or Epstein, Arnold was embraced by these bad boys. He was a proud member of The Sweathogs, his band of brothers who allowed him a voice. It seemed as though Horshack always wanted to be heard at school because he was never heard at home.

In Arnold's haven of  James Buchanan High in Brooklyn New York circa mid-1970's, when New York City was about to go bust, this nerdy kid (played by Palillo when he was 29), found his family.  And nobody could have created a character for young outcasts more funny and dear than Palillo.

Sadly, Robert Heyges passed away earlier this year as well. He played Juan Epstein, a Puerto Rican Jew who always had a note from his mother. For someone like me who is a Cuban Jew, he was like a long lost cousin.

Source: People Magazine

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