Ron Palillo (Getty Images / ABC)
Ron Palillo was known as the overly enthusiastic high school student Arnold Horshack, one of the Sweathogs on Welcome Back, Kotter. Later in life, Palillo himself became a teacher at the University of Connecticut and at G-Star School of the Arts for Motion Pictures and Broadcasting in California. He lent his unique voice to many animated projects and made appearances in several live-action projects, including works ranging from Ellen to the Friday the 13th film series. In addition to his on-screen work, Palillo appeared extensively in regional theater and off-Broadway productions throughout his career. We remember Palillo's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2013: Lisa Robin Kelly, U.S. actress known best for her role as Laurie Forman on the sitcom That '70s Show, dies at 43.
2013: Allen Lanier, U.S. keyboardist and guitarist known best as a member of the band Blue Oyster Cult, dies of chronic obstructive lung disease at 67.
2013: Jack Germond, U.S. journalist and author who wrote for The Washington Star and was a regular panelist on The McLaughlin Group, dies at 85.
With Jules Witcover, Germond co-wrote five syndicated columns a week for nearly 25 years, most of that time spent at The (Baltimore) Evening Sun until it went out of business and then The (Baltimore) Sun, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. He was in many ways emblematic of his generation of Washington journalists: He was friendly with the politicians he covered, and he cultivated relationships with political insiders during late night poker games and whiskey-fueled bull sessions. Read more
2013: Gia Allemand, U.S. actress, model and reality television contestant known best for her appearance on The Bachelor, dies by suicide at 29.
Allemand, a professional ballet dancer and actress, began modeling when as a baby she did Johnson & Johnson ads and also appeared as a Gerber baby, according to her obituary by The Associated Press. In addition, she did modeling work for Maxim magazine. In her 2010 appearance on The Bachelor, she was the third-runner-up on the show featuring love interest Jake Pavelka. Read more
2012: Phyllis Thaxter, U.S. actress known best for starring in the movie Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo and for playing Superman's mother in the 1978 Superman movie, dies at 92.
The Maine native appeared in 17 movies. Thaxter also had dozens of television roles, including a run on Alfred Hitchcock Presents from 1956 to 1960 and a stint on the Alfred Hitchcock Hour from 1963 to 1964. Read more
2012: Rosemary Rice, U.S. actress, singer and voice-over artist most well-known for her role as the older daughter in the television series Mama, dies at 87.
2012: Ron Palillo, U.S. actor most well-known as Arnold Horshack on the sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, dies at 63.
Palillo was forever remembered for the character he played from 1975 to 1979 on the ABC sitcom: a nasally Brooklyn teen whose hand shot skyward and who barked out a string of "Ooohs" when a teacher posed a question. Though his co-star on the show, John Travolta, went on to fame, Palillo struggled to expand beyond his role as Horshack, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Of Horshack, Palillo once told an interviewer from the Birmingham News: "While I loved him, I really loved him, I didn't want to do him forever." Read more
2010: Herman Leonard, U.S. photographer most well-known for his portraits of jazz legends including Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday, dies at 87.
Using a large 4-by-5 Speed Graphic camera, he shot Art Tatum, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan and countless other jazz greats in the smoky haze of jazz clubs, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. In 1956, he was Marlon Brando's personal photographer on a trip to the Far East. While his prints were lost in the New Orleans hurricane, his 60,000 negatives were safe, having been sent before Katrina to the Ogden Museum. His return to New Orleans was chronicled in the 2006 BBC/Sundance documentary, "Saving Jazz." Read more
2006: Bruno Kirby, U.S. actor known best for his roles in City Slickers and When Harry Met Sally…, dies at 57.
Kirby was rarely the star, but that didn't make him any less memorable. As a character actor, he was brilliant – “the quintessential New Yorker or cranky straight man,” according to film critic Leonard Maltin. And when he was elevated to the role of sidekick or best friend, we really got to see him shine. Eight years after Kirby died of leukemia, we're still saddened that he died so young – he was only 57 – and still wishing we could have seen his career go on. Read more
2002: Dave Williams, U.S. vocalist who was the lead singer of the metal band Drowning Pool, dies of heart failure caused by heart muscle disease at 30.
2001: Earl “the Pearl” Anthony, U.S. professional bowler who is in the Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame, who won 43 titles and is considered one of the greatest bowlers of all time, dies at 63 after falling down a flight of stairs.
1999: Pee Wee Reese, U.S. Major League Baseball Hall of Fame shortstop for the Dodgers who was a 10-time All-Star and was known for his support of teammate Jackie Robinson when he broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947, dies at 81.
1992: Tony Williams, U.S. vocalist who was the lead singer of the vocal group the Platters from 1953 until 1960, dies at 64.
1988: Roy Buchanan, U.S. guitarist who played with Johnny Otis and Ronnie Hawkins and was the subject of a television documentary that called him the greatest unknown guitarist in the world, dies by suicide at 48.
1988: Enzo Ferrari, Italian race car driver and entrepreneur who created the Ferrari automobile company, dies at 90.
1985: Gale Sondergaard, U.S. actress who won an Academy Award for her performance in Anthony Adverse, dies at 86.
1972: Oscar Levant, U.S. actor, pianist and composer who appeared in the movies Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris, dies at 65.
1964: Johnny Burnette, U.S. rockabilly musician and songwriter who had a hit song in 1960 with "You're Sixteen," which was covered by Ringo Starr, dies in a boating accident at 30.
Burnette was one of the first musicians to fold country and rock 'n’ roll into the foot-tapping new sound of rockabilly. After performing early in his career with his brother, Dorsey, and their friend Paul Burlison as the Rock and Roll Trio, Burnette later moved on to a successful solo career. In between, he wrote songs made famous by Ricky Nelson and covered by artists ranging from the Beatles to Aerosmith to Motorhead. Read more
1963: Clifford Odets, U.S. playwright and screenwriter whose plays included Awake and Sing! and who wrote the screenplay for Sweet Smell of Success, dies at 57.
1958: Big Bill Broonzy, U.S. blues singer-songwriter and guitarist who had a prolific career and reached his peak popularity playing folk blues in the 1950s, performing concerts with artists such as Pete Seeger, dies at 65.
1956: Bertolt Brecht, German playwright and poet who may be most well-known for his play The Threepenny Opera, who wrote the lyrics to the song "Mack the Knife" for that play and wrote "Alabama Song," a poem later set to music and covered by the Doors, dies at 58.
1951: William Randolph Hearst, U.S. publisher who built the nation's largest newspaper chain, dies at 88.
1943: Joe Kelly, U.S. Major League Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder who had a career batting average of .317 and won six National League pennants, dies at 71.