Monday, August 20, 2012


“Rest In Peace Mr Paolillo”

I suppose this would be the appropriate sentiment to convey respectful condolences to a man who had some minor influence on me. If it ended with “Welcome Back Kotter” that might have worked. But I would have spelled his name differently if I had only been acquainted with that sweetly innocent slice of funny talented young man. He was a funny little guy with an unmistakable smile.

When I saw a couple of Gstar students posting “RIP Mr P” my first thought was “I hope this is part of some scene they are promoting for XScream this year". But someone linked the TMZ report and my heart broke a little. I had to tell my daughter. She was his “Peter Pan” last year. She needed to know.

I texted “Mr P died”
She texted “No freakin way. Are you sure?”
I texted “TMZ reported he died at 4am”
She texted “That’s horrible”

Later I noticed her Facebook status:
“WTF I’m the last to know everything. RIP Mr P. I didn’t know you were gay”

When I read this my first reaction was a giggle. Then I thought, this might not be well received by some people; polite and refined people. It’s not a politically correct memorial. But it was honest and sincere and personal.

I realized that my daughter is missing one of the same filters I lack. It’s a blessing and a curse. People who like us do so instantly. It’s rare that we grow into a friendship that didn’t start off with immediate appreciation of our wit and charm. But there are those who don’t find us charming at all. They are a bit put off right from the start and don’t get over it. Some tolerate us well in small doses, but have no desire to connect on more than a casual basis. She’ll learn more about it as time goes on.

So I have no idea how Mr Paolillo felt about my daughter as a person. I don’t know if he was amused or charmed by her. He may have been put off by her quippy comebacks and less than fully engaged attention. He was her teacher. There were times when she complained about him calling her out for being lazy. I tried to get her to watch “Welcome Back Kotter” so she could see how funny he was. She wasn’t really interested.

But I do know that Mr Paolillo validated my daughter as an actress. He gave her confidence as an artist. I am certain that he knew how incredibly valuable that is. The students he helped and inspired are his true legacy. That’s how I feel as a mother. That’s how I’ll remember him.

And I’ll remember his smile.          


  1. P, I was relieved when I saw your daughter's response to the news about Mr. P. And, I am sure he would have relished her response as well.

    1. Thank you. My condolences for your loss. Remember his smile. :)


  2. It surprises me to hear you say you have no idea how he felt about your gifted daughter. You mention being her Mother. Is it just me, or don't parents talk to their kids' teachers anymore? And when appropriate, ask for their autographs? :-)

    Call me old-fashioned. I remember him fondly, I thank him for all the laughs, for all of his work since "Welcome Back Kotter" and for modeling stability in his life's relationships. I share your sorrow. Thanks for the excellent post.

    1. Thanks for showing up, my bubbly friend.