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Ron Palillo Dead at 63

'Welcome Back, Kotter' Star

Dies from Heart Attack

8/14/2012 9:01 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Exclusive Details

Ron Palillo -- the actor who played Horshack on "Welcome Back, Kotter" -- died this morning at his home near Palm Beach, FL from an apparent heart attack ... this according to someone close to the actor.

We're told Palillo was found by his partner of many years Joseph Gramm around 4:00 AM. Gramm called an ambulance and Palillo was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

We're told the heart attack was very unexpected. Palillo was 63.

According to one of Palillo's colleagues at G-Star School of the Arts, Palillo had appeared to be in good health ... but was a heavy smoker. We're told he had been suffering from a bad cough and had even scheduled a doctor's appointment for today.

Palillo was known for calling out, "Ooh ooh ooh, Mr. Kotter" as one of the Sweathogs on the show ... which he appeared on with John Travolta from 1975 to 1979. 

After Kotter, Palillo appeared in "Laverne & Shirley" and voiced a character on the Disney cartoon, "Darkwing Duck."

Palillo's "Kotter" co-star Robert Hegyes -- who played Epstein -- also passed away earlier this year after suffering a heart attack.




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Jerry Horn    

Ron, you made a birthday cake for me many years ago when I was with J.B. You were so nice. Glad Joe was there. You will be missed.

802 days ago


Um, heart attacks are never expected.

802 days ago


What most people don't realize is people who smoke take their lives into their own hands. More than likely he ate the wrong foods. You can't fool Mother Nature. I don't feel sorry for him one bit or anyone who smokes.

802 days ago

Beverly Ross    

Handsome from beginning to I ♥ u...lasting forever...farewell.

802 days ago


Someone as insignificant as this dies and it is "news" Helen Gurly Brown dies and nothing is heard from this "news" agency...hmmm

802 days ago


only the ocd ones.
after all.., if ya can't figure it out, it says a lot about you.
anyway..., sad to see the dude die.
seemed like a gentle soul.

802 days ago

Honeys Booboo    

So Romney needs a new running mate now.

802 days ago

So sorry to hear this news.Another wonderful actor gone way too soon.
My sympathies to Rons family and friends.
By the way-
Several years ago when VH1 had some specials about the 70s I remember my brother said he saw Ron Pallillo who called out to him "hey there's Travolta" (as my brother bears some resemblance to John Travolta)

802 days ago


Definitly will be missed, but I don't remember himas much for the way he called out in class as his laugh.....that infectious inhaling laugh. Never been imitated, and probably never will.

802 days ago


Very sorry to hear he died. he was so funny on Kotter. Didn't know he was gay. Didn't he know that heavy smoking kills?

802 days ago


R.I.P.........Hope you had a wonderful life. You made a lot of laugh in this one.

802 days ago


John Travolta is scare... loss his good friends from Welcome back, Kotter!

802 days ago


Rest in piece. We will miss you Horshack.

802 days ago


Please exuse Horshack for being late to class today.. As a matter of fact he wont be coming in....He went to hang out with Epstien. I am sad R I P you sweathogs!!! OHHH I can see his Orahhhhhhhh

802 days ago

Judy Dixon Gabaldon    

That show was a lot of fun, and we all remember the annoying but lovable Horshak. RIP Ron Palillo. (P.S. You mentioned that another Kotter cast member, Robert Hegyes also passed away recently in his early 60's. Don't forget Davey Jones, who lived in Florida as well, at roughly the same age - of a heart attack. We're losing them way too young.)

802 days ago
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