According to his manager Craig Marquardo, comedian Gallagher, well known for his watermelon-smashing performance and several successful specials in the 1980s, passed away on Friday morning. He was 76.
In a statement to CNN, Marquardo said the comedian died “after a brief health fight” and “went away in Palm Springs, California, accompanied by his family.”
According to an obituary posted by Marquardo, Gallagher, born Leo Gallagher, rose to fame in the early 1980s with a comedy spectacular titled “An Uncensored Evening,” the first comedic stand-up special to ever show on cable television.
The “Sledge-O-Matic,” a homemade sledgehammer that Gallagher used to crush food on stage and spray the crowd with it, was the centrepiece of his most well-known routine.
The obituary stated that physically involving the audience in that way was “another thing he loved to claim credit for.”
According to his biography on the website of booking agency Selak Entertainment, Gallagher, a native of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in chemical engineering before relocating to Los Angeles and honing his comedy act at renowned venue The Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip.
When he showcased his own style of prop comedy on Johnny Carson’s renowned “The Tonight Show” in 1975, people started paying attention.
He had a lot of success on television, including appearances on “The Mike Douglas Show” in 1978 and “The Merv Griffin Show” in 1979.
He would go on to produce more than a dozen comedy specials for the network over a 27-year period, but it was his Showtime comedies from the 1980s that really solidified his place in popular culture.
He was also a Comedy Central and MTV mainstay in their early years.
The obituary said that Gallagher “stayed on the road touring America for decades as his competitors went on to do sitcoms, host talk shows, and appear in movies.” By attrition alone, he was very certain that he had set a record for the most stand-up performances.
Until the Covid-19 epidemic struck, Gallagher continued his tour schedule and utilised the downtime to spend time with his daughter Aimee, who had previously co-starred with him on his specials, and son Barnaby.
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