RIP: Epstein and Arnold
If you didn’t grow up in North America in the ’70s, you probably aren’t overly moved by today’s news that actor Ron Palillo died of a heart attack . . . just as you likely weren’t moved in January when Robert Hegyes died of the same thing.
But — for the rest of us — that’s two Sweathogs down.
In ‘Welcome Back, Kotter,’ a sitcom about a tough New York high school and an alumnus who returns there to teach, Robert Hegyes played Juan Epstein, an overly-afroed smart alec with excuse notes from “Epstein’s Mother” for every conceivable occasion. Ron Palillo’s character was Arnold Horshack, first responder to “Mistah Kaw-tah’s” Socratic questions, whose laugh sounded like a cross between whooping cough and the noise one immediately makes when dunked into freezing water.
Along with John Travolta (“But I’m Vinnie Bar-bar-REEEE-No!”) and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (‘Freddy Washington’), Palillo and Hegyes played Sweathogs to Gabe Kaplin’s character’s uphill efforts to teach them . . . anything. And they did it very well.
Rest in peace, fellahs.