Gallagher, Watermelon-Smashing Comic, Dies at 76

The comedian Gallagher smash watermelons during a Cub Scout recruiting event held at Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills, California, Oct. 14, 2000.

Gallagher, one of the most popular comics in the 1980s known for his fruit-smashing act and prop humor, has died at the age of 76 in Palm Springs, his longtime manager said Friday.

Leo Anthony Gallagher Jr., who simply went by stage name Gallagher, rose to popularity after appearing on “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson.”

The comedian Gallagher smash watermelons during a Cub Scout recruiting event held at Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills, California, Oct. 14, 2000.
The comedian Gallagher smash watermelons during a Cub Scout recruiting event held at Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills, California, Oct. 14, 2000.

In the 1980s, he used observational humor and props, but was best well-known for smashing watermelons and fruit onstage that would splatter on the audience. His signature act was called the “Sledge-O-Matic.”

Gallagher’s representative said the comedian had been in ill health, and was receiving hospice care in Palm Springs. He died of massive organ failure, longtime manager Craig ​Marquardo told NBC News via phone call.

He was surrounded by his family when he passed, his manager said.

The comedian Gallagher arrives at the "Showbiz Roast of Oscar Goodman" at the Stratosphere Casino Hotel on July 23, 2013, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The comedian Gallagher arrives at the “Showbiz Roast of Oscar Goodman” at the Stratosphere Casino Hotel on July 23, 2013, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In 2011, the comedian reportedly collapsed onstage, and was determined to have suffered a heart attack. The following year, he suffered another heart attack.

He is survived by son, Barnaby, and his daughter Aimee. His daughter had appeared on his specials when she was little, his manager said.

“While Gallagher had his detractors, he was an undeniable talent and an American success story,” Marquardo said.

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