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Comedian Gallagher, dead at 76

Comedian Gallagher, famously known for smashing watermelons as part of his legendary act became one of the most recognizable comedians of the 1980s.

Comedian Gallagher, dead at 76
Photo credit: Idaho Statesman

Comedian Gallagher, much loved and known for his watermelon-smashing famed comedy routine and antiques with many popular specials in the 1980s, died on Friday morning at the age of 76, according to his manager Craig Marquardo.

Gallagher died while under  medical care in the Palm Springs area early 

Friday morning, as reported by TMZ. His manager tells that Gallagher died of massive organ failure. He had been in ill health for a while and suffered numerous heart attacks over the years. He also stated “Gallagher stayed on the road touring America for decades.

He was pretty sure he held a record for the most stand-up dates, by attrition alone,” adding, “While Gallagher had his detractors, he was an undeniable talent and an American success story.” 

Early Life And How It All Got Started 

Leo Anthony Gallagher Jr. was born in Fort Bragg, N.C., on July 24, 1946, and raised in Florida. His father owned a skating rink in the Tampa area, and Gallagher got so much into speed and freestyle skating that he later incorporated it into his stage act, racing around on roller skates with a balloon tail.

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Gallagher, a Fort Bragg, North Carolina native, gained his chemical engineering degree from the University of South Florida before moving to Los Angeles and getting his gig as a comedian at legendary venue The Comedy Store, on Sunset Strip. Gallagher got his big break after appearing on Johnny Carson’s ‘Tonight Show’ back in 1975 showing off his prop humor and quickly becoming one of the most-known faces of America in no time.

Comedian Gallagher, dead at 76

He earned his very trademark with the “Sledge-O-Matic,” where he would use a large mallet to destroy a bunch of foods and objects and his gig always ended with a big old watermelon. Although the whole thing started as a parody of the Veg-O-Matic commercials, it went on to become what millions would always remember him for. Gallagher’s since become a pop culture phenomenon, getting parodied and referenced over the years for his act which was most recently played by fellow comedian Paul F. Tompkins in “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.”

Gallagher went on to have 17 specials spanning decades of his work starting with his first special, “An Uncensored Evening,”  which debuted in 1980. He also appeared in episodes of the shows  “Hollywood Squares,” “WTF with Marc Maron,” “Tosh.0” and “Celebrity Big Brother.”

We last saw the comedian back in 2014, and he offered us some fantastic advice for those looking to get someone a gift while stuck on a budget, it’s as hilarious as one would expect.

Gallagher is survived by his daughter, Aimee, and his son, Barnaby.

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Written By

Harjyot Sandhu is an Entertainment & Arts Intern at Empire Weekly. She was born and raised in Mumbai, and recently graduated with Bachelor's degree in Mass Media & Communications. She is an avid geek when it comes to contemporary media and her core interests lie within the entertainment and fitness industry. Harjyot enjoys the ever-changing pace of the world & human evolution.

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