CNN

Gallagher, watermelon-smashing comedian, dead at 76

Nov 11, 2022, 11:37 AM
PASADENA, CA - MAY 23:  Comedian Gallagher performs during his appearance at The Ice House Comedy C...
PASADENA, CA - MAY 23: Comedian Gallagher performs during his appearance at The Ice House Comedy Club on May 23, 2014 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Michael Schwartz/WireImage)
(Photo by Michael Schwartz/WireImage)

(CNN) — Comedian Gallagher, best known for his watermelon-smashing comedy routine and many popular specials in the 1980s, died Friday morning, according his manager Craig Marquardo. He was 76.

According to a statement provided to CNN by Marquardo, the comedian died “after a short health battle” and “passed away surrounded by his family in Palm Springs, California.”

Gallagher, born Leo Gallagher, became a household name in the early ’80s with a comedy special titled “An Uncensored Evening,” the first comedy stand up special ever to air on cable television, according to an obituary shared by Marquardo.

Gallagher’s most famous bit involved a hand-made sledgehammer he called the “Sledge-O-Matic,” which he would use to smash food on stage, spraying the audience.

“That was something else he liked to claim credit for, which was physically engaging the audience in that manner,” the obituary said.

Gallagher, a Fort Bragg, North Carolina native, earned a chemical engineering degree from the University of South Florida before moving to Los Angeles and developing his comedy act at legendary venue The Comedy Store, located on the Sunset Strip, according to his biography on the website for Selak Entertainment, a booking agency.

People began to take notice in 1975 when he performed his brand of prop comedy on Johnny Carson’s famed “The Tonight Show.”

TV was good to him and in 1978, he made an appearance on “The Mike Douglas Show” and the next year appeared on “The Merv Griffin Show.”

But it was his Showtime 1980s comedy specials that firmly cemented him in pop culture, and he would go on to do more than a dozen for the network over 27 years.

He was also an early staple of MTV and Comedy Central.

“While his counterparts went on to do sitcoms, host talk shows and star in movies, Gallagher stayed on the road touring America for decades,” the obituary said. “He was pretty sure he held a record for the most stand up dates, by attrition alone.”

Gallagher toured steadily until the Covid-19 pandemic hit and used the break to spend time with his son, Barnaby, and daughter Aimee, the latter of whom had appeared with him on his specials when she was a child.

Today’s Top Stories

CNN

A car crashed into an Apple store in Hingham on Monday. Photo credit: WBZ....
Amir Vera, Michelle Watson and Paul LeBlanc, CNN

1 dead, at least 19 injured after car drives through Massachusetts Apple store

Authorities in Massachusetts say one person was killed nearly 20 others were injured Monday after a vehicle drove through an Apple store.
2 months ago
LGBTQ club shooting...
Elizabeth Wolfe, Holly Yan and Amanda Watts, CNN

Police have identified the 5 people killed in Colorado Springs LGBTQ club shooting

    (CNN) — [Breaking news update, published at 5:55 p.m. ET] Police have identified the deceased victims of the Colorado Springs shooting as Raymond Green Vance, Ashley Paugh, Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston and Derrick Rump. A news conference about the shooting is ongoing. Related: The Beehive State reacts to Colorado LGBTQ+ nightclub shooting [Previous story, published […]
2 months ago
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 20: People hold a vigil at a makeshift memorial near the Club...
CNN

Mass shooting at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ club leaves 5 dead and destroys a coveted sense of safety

The shooting an at LGBTQ+ club in Colorado Springs destroyed a building sense of safety in communities around the world.
2 months ago
Whole Roasted Turkey Dinner For Thanksgiving with All the Sides (Adobe stock)...
Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN Business

Thanksgiving dinner will cost 20% more this year because of inflation

A feast for 10 with 12 menu items including a turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and pumpkin pie mix will cost $64.05 on average — up $10.74 from last year. That breaks down to about $6.50 per person, according to the annual survey.
2 months ago
Philip and Rachel Ridgeway have had twins born from embryos that were frozen for 30 years. 

Permis...
Jen Christensen and Nadia Kounang, CNN

Parents welcome twins from embryos frozen 30 years ago

The embryos were created for an anonymous married couple using in-vitro fertilization. The husband was in his early 50s, and they used a 34-year-old egg donor.
2 months ago
two more utahns have been arrested, US capitol attack commission...
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN Associated Press

Man gets jail for joining Capitol riot after Tinder date

A Delaware man owner has been sentenced to 30 days of incarceration for storming the U.S. Capitol after seeing it on a Tinder date's television and taking an Uber ride to join the mob's attack, court records show.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
Gallagher, watermelon-smashing comedian, dead at 76