A sure sign that you're getting older is learning that the people who were on the shows you loved as a kid are dying off. I think I kind of fashioned myself as a not so hip "Mr." Kotter when I was teaching. My students knew that I was in their corner and they seemed to like the fact that I was open to some laughs in the classroom.
Today I noticed that Ron Palillo was trending on Yahoo and I asked myself, "Why do I know that name?" I did the search and realized that it was Arnold Dingfelder Horschack from Welcome Back Kotter.
Palillo was born in Cheshire, Connecticut , and graduated from the University of Connecticut (where he returned to teach during the late 1990s).
After Welcome Back, Kotter, Palillo appeared in supporting roles in various television series and performed the voice in various animated series such as Laverne & Shirley in the Army, Darkwing Duck and Rubik, the Amazing Cube where he played the lead character. In 1996, Palillo played himself in several episodes of Ellen, where he became the love interest of Ellen's friend Audrey. He also played a small part on Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.
Palillo, a heavy smoker, suffered a heart attack on August 14, 2012, at his home in Palm Beach, Florida. His longtime partner, Joseph Gramm, rushed Palillo to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at the age of 63. The cause of death has not been determined.