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The Day Horshack Hung Up On Me

welcome back kotter
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

I was so saddened to read about Ron Palillo‘s death last week. So many of us remember him for his signature laugh on “Welcome Back, Kotter”. I remember him for the day he hung up on me. 

It should come as no surprise to you that I deserved it. It was many years ago and I was contacted to find out if I wanted to interview Ron about a local play he was starring in. I said I’d love to, and then I was told the only requirement was that I not ask too many questions about “Welcome Back, Kotter” and to definitely not ask him to do “the laugh”.

How could I possibly have Arnold Horshack on my show and NOT have him do “the laugh”? But rather than plead my case, I just agreed and figured he wouldn’t refuse my request live on the air, right? 

So the day came. Ron called into the studio and he couldn’t have been nicer. I asked him if he was ready. He said yes and I put him on the air. “It’s my great pleasure to welcome Ron Palillo. How are you Ron?” 

Ron said, “I’m great.” That would be the extent of his part of the interview. My next question made sure of that. “Ron, do the laugh”, I said.

There was a moment of silence followed by a gentle click. “Hello, Ron ….you there?”  Of course he wasn’t.  I was told we got disconnected, but who knows. If his people decided the interview was over because I couldn’t follow simple instructions, then I had it coming.  

Now I feel so bad I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. That laugh made me laugh. It made us all laugh at least a few times whether we want to admit it or not. Ron, you will be missed.

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