Thursday, August 16, 2012

'Your dreams were your ticket out...'

Television theme songs are rooted deeply in my childhood.  As a latch-key kid, I would come home to an empty house after school, make myself a big bowl of Cheerios, and sit in front of the TV/babysitter for hours on end.  This bliss was usually halted by my brother and sister coming home and disrupting my TV-viewing pleasure with their older sibling ways, or a parent returning from work in the evening, and making me to turn off the television as I invariably had homework to do.

Included in my list of favorite theme songs are the theme music to 'MASH' (I taught myself how to play the chorus on my recorder), the perky and quirky theme to 'Courtship of Eddie's Father' (I wanted to be his 'best friend'!), and, most certainly, the theme song to 'Welcome Back, Kotter'.  The singer, John Sebastian, had such a penetrating, yet loose and groovy voice.  I would hum along to these tunes, mouth full of cereal, mumble the words that I (sort of) knew of them, and, generally, feel moved by them.

Wasting time looking at useless, non-news just a bit ago, I saw a wee blurb about the passing of Ron Palillo, the actor who played 'Horshack' on WBK.  For all of you really very tale-end-of-the-alphabet Generationers, 'Welcome Back, Kotter' was one of the most high-profile and certainly still in syndication somewhere on the globe US 70s sit-coms.  The cast consisted of a handful of young men  playing the role of goof-off high-schoolers, a woman who later stole most nerdy kids' hearts playing 'Bailey' on 'WKRP in Cincinnati', and, comedian, Gabe Kaplan, then the most recognized person on the show.

Dr. Johnny Fever looking nonplussed...

Ron Palillo was 63 when he died.  He was just a few years younger than my mom.  It's hard to believe he was even old enough to die.  He and his fellow cast mates/classmates, Travolta excluded, are eternal teenagers in my mind replete with bell-bottoms and big hair.  Whatever all else Mr. Palillo did in his life, professionally speaking, I'd wager he will be most remembered for the role of Horshack.  I loved both WBK and the character of Horshack.  Ron Palillo played him so well.  I mean, heck, this man was responsible for scores of us kids saying, 'oooh!  Mr. Kotter!' while raising our arms as if we were to be called on by some imagined teacher pretty much everywhere we went, school included, well into the 80s.

Thanks, Ron Palillo, for, in part, keeping me company after school, and for helping me annoy others with my paltry yet earnest rendition of your Horshack.


  1. I still hum the tune to Beverly Hills 90210, Saved By The Bell and sometimes the Brady Bunch. Loved it!

  2. Right on! Funny, but I can't even remember the BH 90210 or SBTB themes. It's the older ones that have really stuck in my brain. :) Were the shows I mentioned (except for MASH which for sure is still on TV) even on TV when you were little?


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