Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Whatever Became of...

So there I was, about an hour ago, looking up today's date in an online Almanac. I believe that I have
previously mentioned that several years ago I started an illustrated online daily almanac for a discussion board type website. I enjoy this sort of thing. In the entries I found for this date, two things caught me by surprise.

Today is the birthdate of Ron Palillo, the actor who played the role of Horshack on the ABC sitcom "Welcome Back Kotter" (1975 - 1979). I can't say that I was a fan of the show, or watched it much, but I sure remember his goofball character. I was taken by surprise to note that he passed away last year. I had a vague memory of reading this, but I had to look this up - so easy to do now in these days of an information overloaded internet. As it turns out, he felt his later career was hampered by his identification with that role. He was on the sitcom "Ellen", which I enjoyed watching - but I can't remember his being on it. At one point in his career, he taught at the University in Storrs, CT - the hometown of a friend of mine. Palillo had been living in Florida with Joseph Gramm, his partner of 41 years, when he suffered a heart attack and passed at the age of 63.

Also noted in the birthday list was Debralee Scott, who played "Hotsie" Totsie on the same tv show. I was surprised to note that she passed away in 2005. She played the younger sister on "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman", a 1976 - 1977 oddball tv show I greatly enjoyed. In her bio, it mentioned that her fiancée, a NYC policeman, died in the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. She moved to Florida to care for an ailing sister. One day she collapsed, went into a coma, and woke a few days later on her birthday. Three days later she went to take a nap and never woke up.

This flow of information suddenly made me remember the "Whatever Became of..." book series by Richard Lamparski. Each of the various editions used to sell quite well back in the 1970's when I was running bookstores in NYC for a living. Lamparski had been a PR guy, and had a radio show on WBAI on the same topic. His comments on the folks in his books were often somewhat pithy (today we would say "snarky"). One memorable remark noted that an actress who once had a famous early tv show, "... by no means considers herself retired and greatly resents being considered a has-been." Of course, I had to look up Lamparki. He seems to be one of the people who hasn't made it into Wikipedia. Imagine that. I did find, however, that he is now in his 80's and has been living in retirement in California. Radio station WFMU (Hi, Wendy!) has a nice entry about him on their blog.

Oops, look at the time. Gotta go.


Austan said...

Ah, yes, Seth used to cut Ron Palillo's hair. He was a nice man.

I must say, dahling, I think the Captcha has killed your incoming comments.

sdt (a.k.a. stevil) said...

Well, Thank You for braving it (the Captcha) then. I had removed it but the spam bots returned - only their activity increased to several posts per hour. Most of them got caught by the spam folder, but a number of them started to get through (someone registered a bot a guess) so I turned it back on. It's been awhile - I'll try turning it off again. Thanks for the observation.