Ron Palillo


     Upon moving back to New York in 1990, actor, director, writer and illustrator Ron Palillo’s first assignment was the role of Mozart in AMADEUS and was greeted with high praise indeed, including BEST ACTOR AWARD for his “multi-faceted genius with a tragic flaw. A wondrous performance.” ---Gannett News Organization.

     His year stint on ONE LIFE TO LIVE caused GOOD MORNING AMERICA to hail, ”Welcome Back, Ron! He handles the underhanded card dealer with new maturity and flair.” At the same time the first book he illustrated, THE RED WINGS OF CHRISTMAS was published. Next came Fagin in OLIVER! which made the Birmingham News crow “ Palillo tosses aside campy characterizations of Fagin and delves into the villain’s darker, sometimes neurotic side---the result is a blacker, more ominous Fagin, a signature interpretation for the veteran stage and screen performer.” And a veteran Ron surely is. After his almost too memorable characterization of class yo-yo Arnold Horshack on the hit seventies sit-com WELCOME BACK, KOTTER, Ron was all but ostracized from the Hollywood scene due to type-casting, and except for a few pilots and several unmemorable films, Ron turned back to his first love, the theatre to sustain him during the rather bleak 1980’s. He played some forty states and found, much to his surprise, how much he had learned about his craft!

     In L.A. he won the Dramalogue Award for his portrayal of the cat burglar in P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD as well as great acclaim as stand-up comic Sammy Shore at the Santa Monica playhouse causing Daily Variety to call his performance “Outstanding!” His art which has been exhibited throughout the country brought Ron a showing in New York, where he met up with old pal Tyne Daly, with whom he played the Artful Dodger to her Nancy in an earlier production of OLIVER! directed by friend Michelle Lee. Tyne was in NYC playing Mama Rose in GYPSY and at dinner after the show, she advised Ron to move back to The Big Apple. He made some phone calls to some casting people who remembered him from acting in the award winning off-Broadway play, THE HOT’L BALTIMORE. They asked if he was ready to move back to The City and Ron immediately said “Yes.”

     Besides the aforementioned AMADEUS and OLIVER! Ron toured from theatre to theatre in such diverse shows as OKLAHOMA!, William Gibson’s BUTTERFINGERS ANGEL, GUYS AND DOLLS , I HATE HAMLET, HOW TO SUCCEED, as Truman Capote in A HOLIDAY MEMORY many, many others. It was while playing the eccentric Capote that he was asked to guest star on the ELLEN sit-com. So, on his one day off, he flew to L.A. did the show and returned in a thirty-six hour period. Then to his surprise and delight, ELLEN asked him to return--- several times! Also during this time, his second book, the highly acclaimed GIFT FOR THE CONTESSA with his striking illustrations was published by Pelican Publishing Company.

     Four years ago, he directed the musical comedy 3 GUYS NAKED FROM THE WAIST DOWN in Los Angeles, which again won several Dramalogue Awards. He toured for seven months in the two character comedy-drama THE FOURPOSTER for which one critic called him a “versatile and deft comedian at the height of his artistic power” and another said “Palillo is totally is because he teems with the kind of commanding presence that makes it difficult to take your eyes off him.” But to Ron his great achievement was the role of George in WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? The prestigious New Jersey Star Ledger wrote of him, ”Ron Palillo lays down an extraordinary performance... You may remember him from, WELCOME BACK, KOTTER, but here his portrayal is one of depth and cruel understanding... It is a magnificent performance.”

     Two years ago, Ron directed and starred (playing all the male roles) in A CLOSER WALK WITH PATSY CLINE at the Cuillo Center For the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida. The show broke all box office records, and was extended three times, running a total of seven and a half months. Ron was made Artistic Director of the theatre and went on to direct a new version of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, which has been optioned for a New York mounting next Spring which he will also helm. That summer, Ron was resident guest star at the Lake Pepin Theatre where he played the lead roles in BLITHE SPIRIT, and ARSENIC AND OLD LACE. Last year, Ron undertook the enormous task of bringing a Nazi War criminal to life in the one man show, THE DIARY OF ADOLF EICHMANN Off-Broadway. The New York Times called his performance “Ferocious.”

     Last summer he returned to Lake Pepin to perform in the play ART and then portrayed Arthur in CAMELOT, a role he had dreamed of since he was a child. Early this year, Ron played the lead in THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL, a movie comedy-thriller. he can also be seen in the new David Spade film, DICKIE ROBERTS;CHILD STAR. He was recently in rehearsal for two plays, acting in REVOLVER, a two character psychological comedy drama for SHOTGUN productions, and THE LOST BOY, the story behind the creation of PETER PAN, which he wrote. The book version of which he is now in the midst of publishing negotiations as well as the film and stage rights.

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