Leo Anthony Gallagher, Jr. who became a household name as ‘Gallagher,’ and was known for smashing watermelons as part of his legendary act, died Friday at the age of 76, from massive organ failure, according to his manager.
TMZ reported that Gallagher passed away early on Friday in the Palm Springs area while receiving hospice care. He had been in failing health for quite some time.
Gallagher made his first appearance on TV in 1975 with a skit about Johnny Carson, on the “The Tonight Show,” starring Johnny Carson. That appearance was a boost in his popularity along with his unique way in engaging his audience in his act, which he liked to take credit for, and solidified a career that lasted for decades.
According to CNN, in 1980, Gallagher performed the first standup comedy special to ever air on Showtime, “an Uncensored Evening,” gaining Gallagher new-found fame in the 1980’s. He would go on to create 12 more hourlong specials for CNN, as well as several popular programs for HBO and others.
He appeared in episodes of “Hollywood Squares,” “WTF with Marc Maron,” Tosh.0,” and “Celebrity Big Brother,” all 1980’s television programs.
His most famous bit, “The Sledge-O-Matic, set him apart from other comedians where he would use asledgehammer to smash food on stage, especially watermelons, and spray it onto the audience. Many of his fans sitting in the front rows would be wearing ponchos, raincoats, or other items to protect themselves from flying food.
Gallagher liked to call himself the Wizard of Odd because of his outrageous and unique stage performances.
His manager recalled, “Gallagher stayed on the road touring America for decades. He was pretty sure he held arecord for the most stand-up dates, by attrition alone, while Gallagher had his detractors, he was an undeniable talent and an American success story.”
According to the New York Times, Gallagher played more than 100 shows yearly for over 30 years, smashing an estimated 15,000 melons. He also traveled with 15 footlockers of props, including a handgun that fired plastic hands into the audience.
Gallagher is survived by his daughter, Aimee, and his son, Barnaby. All of us at The DC Patriot send our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the family and friends of this legend!
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