Home » Legendary Comedian Gallagher, Known for Smashing Watermelons, Dies at 76

Legendary Comedian Gallagher, Known for Smashing Watermelons, Dies at 76

Courtesy of Ahmad (Flickr CC0)

Comedian Gallagher passed away at the age of 76. The legendary stand-up comedian was known for smashing watermelons with a sledgehammer. He was under the care of hospice and “passed away surrounded by his family in Palm Springs, California,” stated his manager Craig Marquardo. Prior to his death, he suffered a few heart attacks.

Birth of a Legend

Born Leo Anthony Gallagher on July 24, 1946, in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He practiced roller skating in his father’s rink. Eventually, he became a youth roller skating champion. After high school, he attended the University of South Florida-Tampa. He graduated there with a chemical engineering degree in 1969.

Gallagher then moved to Los Angeles where he developed his comedy act The Comedy Store. This legendary venue is located on the Sunset Strip. In 1975 he performed his prop comedy on “The Tonight Show” starring Johnny Carson. Afterwhich people really began to take notice of his brand of comedy skits.

Courtesy of shazam791(Flickr CC0)

Three years later he made an appearance on “The Mike Douglas Show.”  In 1979, he did a guest spot on “The Merv Griffin Show.”

The following year marked when he joined the pop culture world when he opened for Kenny Rogers. Gallagher opened for the singer in 100 shows.

Smashing Watermelons

Then he began his own comedy specials on Showtime. Fans could see his prop comedy in over a dozen of shows. One of his skits contained the Sledge’O’Matic. During this skit fans in the front row to the fifth row would want to wear raincoats, hold plastic sheeting/bags, and goggles if they had them, as Gallagher smashed various produce with a huge sledgehammer. He ended the skit smashing watermelons.

He attributed some of his comedy to his daughter Aimee, saying it was conversations with her as a young child that helped him with his shows. She even appeared on a few of his specials.

For decades Gallagher toured America bringing laughter to his fans around the country. Other comedians in his field “went on to do sitcoms, host talk shows, and star in movies,” according to his obituary. “He was pretty sure he held a record for the most stand-up dates, by attrition alone.”

Ending His Tours

The comedian continued his tours until COVID-19 struck causing the world to pause. He used the break to spend more time with his daughter Aimee, and son Barnaby.

Gallagher is survived by his children, other family members, and close friends. May he rest in peace.

By Sheena Robertson

CNN: Gallagher, watermelon-smashing comedian, dead at 76
IMDb: Gallagher
TMZ: Comedian Gallagher Dead at 76

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Ahmad’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of shazam791‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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