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Gay 'Welcome Back Kotter' Actor Ron Palillo Dies at 63

HorshackTMZ reports on the death of Ron "Horschack" Pallilo:

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.

Does anybody know if he was out before his death?


Horschack's classic move, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. You forgot the "Harumpf!"

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Aug 14, 2012 4:31:53 PM

  2. Like so many other celebrities, I never heard any hint that he was gay when he was alive.
    A San Francisco Chronicle article has tried to re-invent Horshack as a coded gay character. There was nothing coded as gay about Horshack. A goofy character who has a crush on Epstein's sister and eventually marries the new sweathog Mary does not read as a gay role model to any viewer who knows what gay means.

    @JimmyD: if he was with his partner for 41years, that relationship started well before he was famous. In order NOT for it to be known, he has to have been making active decisions to NOT have him mentioned.
    I notice that even, which appears to be a fan site, talks about what his brother's doing, what his sister's doing, etc., but says his married life is not known.

    Posted by: GregV | Aug 14, 2012 4:35:29 PM

  3. Ladies, LADIES. LA-DIES. Can we please all get over ourselves and allow Horshak just a little bit of his final spotlight? The one final gift of being a "has-been" celebrity is knowing that people will, at last, talk about you again when you die. So let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was a decent enough guy who assumed folks knew he was gay (did Richard Simmons need to come out publicly?), and who may have been having a rough summer in Michigan, and whose partner is, at the very least, grieving his death.


    And while you're at it, read my new gay novel, Man*hattan: a fairy tale! Exclusively on Amazon.

    Posted by: Phiggles | Aug 14, 2012 4:47:33 PM

  4. @David
    I think you meant harumph, the urban spelling. Oh David, now you sound like an angry black man with a huge chip on his shoulder. Am I right?

    You STILL didn't explain your Ron comments. Some people just can't admit when they are wrong. That chip must really be weighing you down.

    Posted by: Randy | Aug 14, 2012 4:53:53 PM

  5. Damn Bitches... The Guy is Dead

    Posted by: John Normile | Aug 14, 2012 5:35:41 PM

  6. Ron was open about being with his partner for 41 years, but he never "came out" in the manner of which those do now.

    Also, Ron became severely depressed in the 1980 which could account for his attitude and behavior. Unless, you've been, lived with or helped someone with severe depression, it may be difficult to understand that they really aren't "themselves." It is a terrible place to be. Some hate themselves so much that they will unintentionally push others away either by isolating which he did and by what it seems from your comment TRUTH by their behavior.

    Posted by: Snoopy | Aug 14, 2012 6:10:45 PM

  7. Ron's died from a heart attack.

    Posted by: Snoopy | Aug 14, 2012 6:13:32 PM

  8. Another dead fag is one more step in the right direction!

    Posted by: Q | Aug 14, 2012 7:43:25 PM

  9. RIP Ron, you brought some joy into many peoples lives. What more can be asked of any man?

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 14, 2012 7:52:43 PM

  10. Just out of curiosity, are we criticizing Palillo for not being out back in 1978 when he was famous? Or are we criticizing him for not being recognized by the media as gay after he was no longer famous and was no longer on the media's (and much of the public's) radar enough that they would care?

    Posted by: Prof Sancho Panza | Aug 14, 2012 7:59:20 PM

  11. Nothing weighs me down. Least of all a whiner like you.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Aug 14, 2012 8:21:02 PM

  12. Ron And Joseph were together 41 years it was not a secret. Whether he was "out" or not is irrelevant, anyone who met him and his partner assumed they were a couple. They were out of the public eye so it didn't matter. Now Joseph must go on alone, without the man that was part of his world for most of his life. My deepest symathy to him for this unimaginable loss.

    Posted by: Iwontgrowup | Aug 14, 2012 8:32:02 PM

  13. I think being with the same person at age 63 that you were with at age 22 is damn impressive, btw.

    Posted by: Prof Sancho Panza | Aug 14, 2012 8:39:18 PM

  14. Y'know, the dead don't care. They're free.

    Posted by: J.D. | Aug 15, 2012 12:31:32 AM

  15. Well Truth, it seems that you two have a lot in common then.

    Posted by: Logan | Aug 15, 2012 2:34:01 AM

  16. Another gay 70's tv icon gone.The other being Sherman Hemsley.

    Posted by: RJG | Aug 15, 2012 11:13:13 AM

  17. RATBASTARD--Really? You absolutely KNEW the Horshack character was gay? that's funny, because if you actually watched the damn show, you'd know he married Mary Johnson in the final season.

    I always had a feeling Ron Palillo was gay, but "Arnold Horshack" was not.

    Posted by: Bill | Aug 25, 2012 2:51:02 AM

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