Watermelon-Smashing Comedian Dies at 76


Gallagher, the comic recognized for smashing watermelons throughout his act, has died at age 76.

The North Carolina native — whose full title was Leo Anthony Gallagher Jr. — died on Friday, November 11, “after a brief well being battle,” his supervisor, Craig Marquardo, confirmed to CNN. The spokesperson confirmed that the performer “handed away surrounded by his household in Palm Springs, California.”

The comedian’s son-in-law advised NBC Information that Gallagher had beforehand suffered “a number of coronary heart assaults.” In March 2011, the E-book of Daniel star collapsed on stage throughout a efficiency after struggling a minor coronary heart assault. The next 12 months, Gallagher was positioned in a medically induced coma after struggling what his supervisor described as a “gentle to critical” coronary heart assault.

After his restoration, he continued touring and made cameo appearances on The Eric Andre Present in 2013 and Movie star Huge Brother 2 in 2019. That very same 12 months, he launched into his farewell tour, referred to as The Final Smash.

Gallagher’s signature act included a section he referred to as the “Sledge-O-Matic,” the place he would destroy varied meals and objects utilizing a big mallet. The bit often ended with him smashing a watermelon, spraying the viewers with bits of the fruit.

The College of South Florida graduate received his begin within the Seventies, showing on The Tonight Present when Johnny Carson was the host. As his act rose in recognition, he headlined a sequence of solo comedy specials for Showtime, ultimately producing 14 complete.

The Sledge-O-Matic routine was impressed by commercials for the Veg-O-Matic, a meals processing equipment that grew to become obtainable within the Sixties. “Why don’t you hit it with a hammer if you need it in little items?” Gallagher requested.

In later years, nevertheless, the comic got here beneath fireplace for telling racist and homophobic jokes in his act. He famously walked out of a 2011 interview with Marc Maron after the “WTF” podcast host, 59, requested him about allegations that his comedy was offensive. “There’s not hate concerned right here,” Gallagher claimed on the time. “We’re telling jokes. I’m not indignant.”

Maron, for his half, replied: “You’re a man who smashes issues.”

In an announcement to Selection, Marquardo stated of his late shopper: “Whereas Gallagher had his detractors, he was an plain expertise and an American success story.”

Earlier this 12 months, comic Paul F. Tompkins performed Gallagher in Bizarre: The Al Yankovic Story, which starred Daniel Radcliffe because the titular musician.

Gallagher is survived by son Barnaby and daughter Aimee, the latter of whom appeared in a few of her father’s comedy specials.