Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ron Palillo

Ron Palillo is an actor best known for his role as "Horshack" on the hit 1970s sitcom, Welcome Back, Kotter.

Palillo was born on April 2, 1949, in Cheshire, Connecticut. Palillo was interested in acting from an early age. At the tender age of 14, he started his own summer theater in his hometown. Surprisingly, his summer theatre actually made money.

After high school, Palillo attended the University of Connecticut, majoring in drama. Palillo pursued his dream of acting while at Connecticut, appearing in many school plays. After graduation, Palillo took a job with a touring company which performed William Shakespeare's plays. Palillo later moved to New York and acquired a role in the successful off-Broadway play, Hot l Baltimore, with which he stayed for over a year. Palillo's stage success led to his breakthrough role as Horshack on Welcome Back, Kotter.





Welcome Back, Kotter was a hit sitcom that originally aired between 1975 and 1979. It is the sitcom that launched John Travolta's career into stardom. Welcome Back, Kotter was a sitcom about a wise-cracking teacher, Gabe Kotter (played by Gabe Kaplan), who returned to high high school alma mater (the fictional James Buchanan High in Brooklyn, New York) to teach a rowdy group of remedial wiseass students known as the "Sweathogs." According to the storyline, Kotter had attended the same remedial classes when he was a student at Buchanan and was a founding member of the Sweathogs. Believing that he was the last chance for the students to acquire a sufficient education to succeed beyond high school, Kotter befriended his students. Kotter even allowed the students to visit his apartment in Bensonhurst. Although inviting innocent young boys into his home would likely be frowned upon in today's society, Mr. Kotter surprisingly didn't attempt to molest any of the boys.

Palillo's Horshack character was the "Screech Powers" of 1970s sitcoms. Horshack was the class clown of the Sweathogs and was known for his odd and unique observations and his wheezing laugh, which was akin to that of a hyena.

Horshack was a popular character on Welcome Back, Kotter, although certainly not as popular as Travolta's Vinne Barbarino character. Despite his success on the show, Palillo struggled to find acting work after the cancellation of Welcome Back, Kotter in 1979. Palillo managed to acquire some non-recurring minor roles on shows such as The Love Boat, The A-Team, and CHiPs. Acting roles were so sparse that Palillo got a nose job in an effort to distance himself from his Horshack character.

However, Palillo's career never recovered. Palillo returned to the University of Connecticut to teach an acting class in the late 1990s. Palillo eventually decided to accept any TV roles offered to him, regardless of how sleazy they might be. In 2002 Palillo was so desperate to make a dollar that he actually agreed to fight fellow washed-up celebrity Dustin "Screech" Diamond in Fox's Celebrity Boxing.





Fox billed the boxing bout between Diamond and Palillo as a match to "dork it up" in the ring. Although much smaller than Diamond, Palillo decided to go through with the match, apparently thinking that some media exposure would help his career. However, Palillo was in for a rude awakening when he stepped in the ring with Diamond. Palillo started the match by pushing Diamond and trying to punch Diamond in the head. However, Diamond eventually started unloading on Palillo and quickly began beating the crap out of Palillo, eventually giving Palillo a puffy black eye and causing the boxing referee to call the match in favor of Diamond.

Palillo was not a happy camper after the match. Diamond claimed that Palillo asked the producers of Celebrity Boxing to talk to him before the match and asked him to go easy on Palillo because Palillo had just gotten nose and chin jobs. However, Diamond was infuriated when Palillo tried to punch him in the head and decided to get even by whaling on Palillo. Palillo was very upset with the beating he received; after the match Palillo said to Diamond, "Don't even talk to me. Just get away from me. I never want to see you again." Diamond has also claimed that Palillo's gay lover told Diamond that Karma was going to get him.

After his bout on Celebrity Boxing, Palillo was very embarrassed because many people were poking fun at him for losing badly to Diamond. However, Palillo now claims that he never received a black eye, despite the swelling around his eyes that is clearly visible in the pictures shown above. Palillo claims that the referee called the match because Diamond had knocked a contact lens out of Palillo's eye. Palillo also asserts that he gave Diamond a vicious beating during the bout and that Diamond thought that Palillo had broken one of his ribs in the one-sided match!

Ron Palillo's acting career quickly peaked with his memorable role on the hit 1970s sitcom, Welcome Back, Kotter. However, after the cancellation of the show, Palillo's career swirled down the toilet and has yet to recover. Palillo is currently so hard up for cash that he will speak to anyone on the phone for $20! As a result of his stalled acting career and his desperate attempt to revive his career by appearing on Celebrity Boxing and receiving the pummeling of a lifetime at the hands of uber-nerd, Dustin Diamond, there can be no doubt that Ron Palillo is one washed-up celebrity!


*** Update - August 14, 2012 ***

Ron Palillo died of an apparent heart attack this morning.  He was 63 years old.  

61 comments:

Michelle said...

When he guest starred on Ellen back in the 90's (as himself) he claimed to be a "respected stage actor" in New York, any truth to that?

Movie Fan said...

^^^ According to Ron's own Myspace page, he has appeared in a number of plays over the years: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=250078008

However, I am not sure of whether any of those plays were very successful. I think that he really wanted to return to the limelight associated with mainstream acting, but it just never happened.

tdl123 said...

Ha ha ha - I love the blog. I write scripts for Steven Seagal films that will never be made and have just posted about your blog. It will save me time when scoputing for potential actors and acctresses to star!

See www.doctorday.blogspot.com

Frank Da'Ma'Ge said...

Man i just looked through that list of other actors hawking personal phone calls for $20.00 - $300.00. Naturally Kato was there, but a couple of the people I saw on the list just made me feel sad.

K_Fed said...

Man, this guy was always so annoying.

Anonymous said...

I've always wanted to jerk off all over Ron's jew-fro and soak it. His only redeeming quality is gone - now that he's balding and the fro is gone.

Thanks a lot Ron - you fucking washed up piece of shit!

Anonymous said...

To get your ass kicked by Dustin Diamond (the king of washed up celebs) on national TV makes you truly a washed up celebrity.....

I wonder if Diamond tea-bagged Ron after he kicked his ass in celebrity boxing.

J said...

^^^ Speaking of our good ol' "buddy" Dustin, the cast of SBTB are going to be on the cover of this week's issue of People magazine and just take a guess who isn't included?

And to make it even funnier, the cover also shows a smaller picture of the cast from 1989 and Dustin was edited out of it. Hilarious!

Richard Doyle said...

To be fair to Ron ... the phone call thing is a scam. The $20 "phone call" is a recording. Only the vastly more expensive calls are personal, and most of the celebs won't do those.

You have to read the site very carefully to figure taht out.

Anonymous said...

HOLD ON A MINUTE !!!!>. I knew Ron Palillo back in the early 1970s when he was doing SUMMER STOCK in Jenny Wiley State Park and he was wonderful. We treated him like family. He was very congenial and full of personality and talent. I had a VW Bug and we had cast parties after the plays there. Tommy Kirk, Caroline Koli (SP?) were regular cast members too. Hey, Ron, get back to me and tell me if you remember those wash tubs full of cans of beer we had to drive 40 miles to get because the county was "DRY"...
Terry_Zaal@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

He was in one of the many Friday the 13th sequels. He was one of the guys digging up Jason from his grave when Jason gets struck by lightning and comes back to life!

Anonymous said...

This guy is an asshole. I'm not kidding, I met him once. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

Ron Palillo teaches school in South Florida.

polysubwaymama said...

First, he just completed a movie. Second,Ron Palillo still teaches drama at the University of Connecticut.
Third, if you wish to post his nothing, washed up career it might help to see what he has done and is still doing.
BTW:He IS regareded as a respected stage actor who is as busy as he wishes to be.

Anonymous said...

WHERE WAS HE AT THE TV LAND AWARDS?!!! I was so disappointed to not see him, just the others plus John's sister who played Ron's mother. Where also was that overbite girl who played Hotsy Totsy? I know Mr. Woodman is deceased, sadly. Anyway, it was good to see the ones who showed up. Incidentally, I remember Ron said he later realized that laugh he was doing as Arnold was the lung diseased cough he heard from his dad or grandad. Kind of a bummer to know!

Anonymous said...

i think he died of aids

Anonymous said...

Not so washed up career....he's an artist, teacher, playwright, fashion designer (featured in GQ magazine), actor (stage and film...probably was busy with any of one of these elements and couldn't make it tonight. Where do you get you (MIS)information?

Anonymous said...

Debra Lee Scott who played the girl with the overbite died a few years back. She was very young. She lived in Sarasota I believe and died of a mysterious illness and it was unexpected. She was also on Mary Hartman Mary Hartman and the show Angie playing Donna Pescow (angie)'s sister.

Anonymous said...

Debralee Scott (Hotsie Totsie) passed away in 2005.

Tammy said...

I think "Hotsie-Totsie" passed away after the show. I loved Ron in Kotter and especially in The Love Boat! If you get a chance to see that episode, check it out :)

Anonymous said...

Hotsy Totsy(Debralee Scott) Passed away in 2005. Ron was unable to appear due to a illness.

Anonymous said...

JUST WANTED TO KNOW FOR A GREAT REUNION, WHY HE WASN'T THERE?

Tommy said...

"Hotsy Totsie" was played by Debralee Scott. She passed away on April 5th, 2005.

Her fiance was a police officer who was killed in NYC on 09/11/2001. In 2005 she moved to Florida to care for her sister who was dying. No one really knows what Debralee died from. She fainted and went into a coma, but came out of it. However soon thereafter she went to sleep and never woke up. According to Wikipedia there was an autopsy but no cause of death was ever found.

She had done some more acting after Kotter, and then became an agent. She was a very sweet and lovely woman, very giving and generous. RIP Debralee.

Anonymous said...

The girl who played 'Hotsie Totsie" - her first name was Deborah, and she was also on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman - she passed away shortly after she turned 40.

Anonymous said...

I hate when people say others are "washed up." Very ignorant statement. Missed seeing Ron with the cast of "Welcome Back Kotter" on the TV Land Awards. He was (and will always be) part of that wonderful "magic!" You will always ROCK, Ron! :)

Anonymous said...

"Hotsy" Totsy passed away some years back after moving to Florida to help her ailing sister.

Catz said...

According to fellow cast members on TVland awards last night he was too under the weather to attend. Sad that his career went south while some of his other cast mates managed to make. Some bigger than others.

Anonymous said...

I worked a telethon once where he was one of the stars to appear. When people phoned in their pledges, the stars were supposed to talk to them to thank them for their pledge. Sometimes we had to kill time waiting for the music to stop or for one thing or another, and we would talk to the stars while waiting to hand them the phone. The sayrs were very pleasant to talk to except Ron he was extremely "RUDE"! He acted like should be asking him for his autograph. Yeah.....in his dreams maybe, what a loser. Up his nose with a rubber hose.

Joseph said...

I did see the reunion. I was sad that Ron Palillo didnt make it. Obviously he had a valid reason. He was a major part of that classic cast. Glad hes teaching and doing occasional acting. Someone, like you agents, give him some tv or movie roles, Hes that talented.

eclipse22000 said...

I think it's sad that some of you people are so disrespectful. Mr.Palillo is a person,who at one time was on top of the world with his career and for those of you who have nothing better to do than to degrade him,shame on you. Maybe some day you're life won't go as you plan and you will realize it when it is smeared all over the internet!!! It is disgusting how some feel the need to kick a person when they're down. God bless you Mr.palillo and may you find comfort in knowing that some people love you! I wish you all the sucess that you deserve!

eclipse22000 said...

I think that it is disgusting that some of you people feel the need to insult others for no other reason than to kick a man when he's down. Shame on all of you. Maybe one day when life doesn't happen the way you expect it to,you will find it smeared all over the internet!!! Thank you Mr. Palillo for making me laugh and may God bless you with love,good health,happiness and much sucess!!!

RGSnAZ said...

I found this information on the internet regarding Ron. 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 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.

In 2005, his first full length play, The Lost Boy, the true story of Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie, was produced in New York State. A film version of the play is also in discussion.

Palillo is now living in Palm Beach County, Florida, where he teaches at G-Star School of the Arts for Motion Pictures and Broadcasting.

I truly believe that Ron's health is not well due to HIV and he moved to Connecticut to be with family. Ron, if you read your blogs, your fans and "sweat hog" family really missed you at the TV Land awards. Please reach out to them, especially Travolta. He's a good guy. And please, stay well.

Aptekar said...

I met Ron Palillo in Dallas ,Texas I believe it had to be the 70's or early 80s somewhere in Downtown Dallas. He seemed to be a nice guy. I don't believe people should say nasty things about other people. This guys an actor. I think his time will come again. I don't believe anyone is washed up. Hey Look at James Woods they still use him and he's not that great? Give me a break! Keep trying Ron you'll find something.

Anonymous said...

" Tommy Kirk, Caroline Koli (SP?) were regular cast members too."

There's a good opportunity for a profile moviefan, Tommy Kirk.

rwalmer said...

I bartended in Kailua-Kona HI about 18 years ago. I waited on Ron one day and never paid attention to who he was, I just knew a very nice Guy. The next night I hung out at the bar we're I worked (MASK BAR N GRILL). Ron was great genuine person, so what we all make mistakes (boxing etc. .) I think someone in Hollywood should give him a full time role on a sit-com - he doesn't need to be the star but hey,all shows would fail without co-stars. Welcome Back Carter would have not worked. W/ O ron. Rwalmer11@gmail.com Thanks Ron for a nice few days in Hawaii, love Bob.

Anonymous said...

I just saw him and his boyfriend in a supermarket in Palm Beach Gardens Florida!

Anonymous said...

Hey, this guy is way cool... what a stupid article. You obviously don't know shit.

Anonymous said...

WE LOVED HIM BACK IN THE 70'S.... LIKE THE JEFFERSON'S AND THREE'S COMPANY... I HOPE HE READS THIS...FANS FROM CENTRAL AMERICA

IF YOU HAVE NOTHING NICE TO SAY DON'T LEAVE A COMMENT....LIFE IS TOOOO SHORT...

Grandmommy said...

http://www.scottstander.com/Personalities/ron_palillo.html

Looks to me like he did pretty well, just because he didn't act much on TV doesn't me he's washed up. Maybe in retrospect he regrets the typecasting aftermath but that didn't stop him from continuing his acting career.

Eddie R said...

Ron who? Oh, now I remember this guy. This is the guy that would take John Travolta's rubber hose up his nose(ass) on Welcome Back Kotter! I actually saw this guy in Compton washing windshields for stale bean burritos. This dork is more washed up than Richard Grieco!

Jessica I said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Ronald Paolillo is not dead... he is very much alive and kicking. He teaches at Gstar high school of the arts for motion picture and broadcasting. He is my teacher for acting for the camera and he is very serious with a very short temper... he normally doesn't laugh at my "up your nose with a rubber hose" jokes or when I go "oooh ooooh ooooh I know the answer!!! Pick me!!!!" but he's a good teacher... I enjoy the class

Anonymous said...

How come no one mentioned that he was on "One Life to Live" for a while playing Gary Warren?

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0657676/

I met him at a "One Life to Live" Fan Club Luncheon in NYC.

He was nice over there and signed autographs.

Larry Dutton said...

Ronald died today: August 14, 2012.

Anonymous said...

Ron has passed away today.

Rip to a great actor

Anonymous said...

RIP

Anonymous said...

Rest in Peace Ron Palillo. 8/14/2012

Anonymous said...

He died today

J said...

Just heard on the radio that he died this morning of a heart attack.

http://www.wptv.com/dpp/entertainment/ron-palillo-arnold-horshack-on-welcome-back-kotter-dies-at-age-63#ixzz23XGYfhMK

Anonymous said...

i met him not too long ago, and everyone was right -- he's a jackass. and now he's dead.

Anonymous said...

He just passed away: http://tv.msn.com/tv/article.aspx?news=750486&ocid=ansent11

A Nonny Moose said...

Ron Palillo was a good man...RIP

Anonymous said...

RIP Ron - you had your Andy Warhol's "15 minutes" of fame, and will be remembered.

Anonymous said...

God Bless Horshack and Ron Palillo and geez the writer of the article needs to tone it down Ron was way older than screech.

Sarah said...

He was definitely not washed up. How can a writer, stage actor, film actor, illustrator and teacher be washed up. Yes he had a hard time overcoming the Horshack stereotype but he did not leave the profession in anyway shape or form. He did the things he enjoyed doing!

Sarah said...

He was an actor, writer, illustrator and teacher. He did have a hard time overcoming the Horseshack stereotype but he was by no means washed up. He did the things he enjoyed doing. Stage, screen and school he remained in the industry.

Sarah said...

He was by no means washed up. Hard time overcoming the stereo type of Horseshack but he did stage, screen, writer, illustrator and remained in the industry. He did the things he loved. He just happened to end up as he started in school loving every second.

Down Under Dude said...

Horror film fans should check out FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI JASON LIVES which was released back in 1986. Ron Palillo makes an appearance.

Anonymous said...

He used to be one washed up celebrity, but now he's just one washed down celebrity.

RIP

Anonymous said...

The poor man has died, so show him some respect. He was very funny back in the day and he was never able to escape the role that made him famous.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wonderfully memories Ron, aka the great Arnold horshack,happy trails and rest in peace