Ronald Gabriel Paolillo

Ronald Gabriel Paolillo. A true example of the modern Renaissance man, Ron Paolillo enjoyed success not only as a playwright, but also as an actor, director, artist, illustrator, and teacher.

He achieved international fame playing the loveable Arnold Horshack on the hit TV series "Welcome Back Kotter." His signature laugh and anxious hand-raising were imitated in schools across the nation and indeed the world. Aside from "Kotter," Mr. Paolillo guest-starred in over 250 television series and specials as well as several motion pictures.

But his true love was always the stage. He appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and in major regional theaters across the country, winning awards and acclaim for his roles in productions that included The Hot L Baltimore, Mozart in Amadeus, Vito in PS Your Cat Is Dead, George in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, and Richard in Richard III. Mr. Paolillo was also a Shakespearean scholar of some note, and while touring in the UK performing Richard III, he was invited to give several lectures in Shakespearean Theater to University students.

Over the course of his acting career, which started as a teenager when he formed his own theater company called the Blackfriars in his native Cheshire, Connecticut, Mr. Paolillo starred in over 50 plays. In 1977 he co-founded the Nafe E. Katter-Ronald Paolillo Scholarship Fund at the University of Connecticut to honor his mentor and favorite professor as well as to encourage future actors. UCONN students are still receiving those scholarships every year.

As an artist, Mr. Paolillo's paintings and intricate pen-and-ink works have been shown at art galleries across the nation, and he created the illustrations for two successful children's books: The Red Wings Of Christmas and A Gift For The Contessa. He also designed a well-selling series of greeting cards.

Mr. Paolillo directed a score of plays during his lifetime and for several years was the Artistic Director of the Cuillo Center for the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida. A few years later he was asked to return to the area to join the staff of The G-Star School of the Arts where he taught acting for film, television, and the stage. It was there in Florida that he prematurely and unexpectedly passed away on August 14, 2012.

In addition to The Lost Boy, Mr. Paolillo wrote the plays Who Can Say From This And That? (a black comedy), Let Me Call You Sweetheart (a loving romantic tribute to a theater stock company in the 1950s), All's Fair That Ends Well (a biting contemporary farce), and But God's First (a historical drama about the daughter of Sir Thomas More). Each play, like Mr. Paolillo's multi-faceted career, is a complete departure from the other.

It was Mr. Paolillo's desire that The Lost Boy remain perhaps his hallmark legacy and he spent many years perfecting this work. This period-specific and insightful look into the life and times of Scottish author Sir James M. Barrie weaves the author's life into the Peter Pan fantasy in a fresh new approach. It has already achieved acclaim here and abroad.

Plays by Ronald Gabriel Paolillo