Watermelon-smashing comedian Gallagher dies aged 76

Gallagher – the long-haired comedian who left a trail of laughter, anger and smashed watermelons in his decades-long career – has died at the age of 76.

Raig Marquardo, who identified himself as Gallagher’s “longtime former manager,” said he died Friday at his home in Palm Springs, California, after a short illness.

Gallagher has had numerous heart attacks over the years, including one just before a scheduled show in Texas in 2012.

With a beret on his head and a few simple props, from a can of oil to a bullwhip, the man who went by the name Leo Anthony Gallagher Jr. built a nationwide fan base in the 1970s and ’80s, starring with Johnny Carson on Tonight Show and starred in numerous Showtime specials.


Comedian Gallagher smashes strawberry syrup and flour at the end of his performance (Jeremy Portje/Telegraph Herald via AP)

His act included observational humor (“What about Easter? Whose idea was it to give eggs to an animal that hops”), political commentary (“They don’t call a tax a tax. They call it a tax hike”), invented sports (synchronized ping-pong) and his trademark “Sledge-O-Matic” destruction.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I didn’t come here tonight just to make you laugh. I came here to sell you something and I want you to be extra careful,” he called out in his best rapid-fire imitation of a late-night TV pitchers.

“The amazing Master Tool Corporation, a subsidiary of Fly-By-Night Industries, who did they put their trust in? Me. To show you The handiest and most amazing kitchen tool you have ever seen.”

Sledgehammer in hand, he then turned his energies to apples, grapes, lettuce and other produce – most famously the inevitable watermelon – while viewers in front were showered with bits of food.

A native of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Gallagher started out as a road manager for comedian/musician Jim Stafford in 1960. He was soon performing himself, honing his performances at the Comedy Store and other clubs.

He wasn’t the only prankster in the family: his younger brother Ron became a comedian, received Leo’s initial blessings, and looked and acted enough like his more famous brother that some viewers weren’t sure who to watch.

Leo Gallagher eventually obtained an injunction barring his brother from using his routines.

The elder Gallagher has been the subject of increasing controversy in recent years, being punished for racist and homophobic remarks.

Gallagher even dropped out of an interview with Marc Maron in 2011 after the WTF podcast host confronted him about his statements.

In 2003, Gallagher was among more than 100 candidates running in the recall election for California governor, which was won by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Over the past decade, Gallagher has appeared in a Geico commercial and in the film The Book Of Daniel.

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/watermelon-smashing-comedian-gallagher-dies-aged-76-42138022.html Watermelon-smashing comedian Gallagher dies aged 76


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