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Gallagher, Comedian Known for Smashing Watermelons, Dies at Age 76


  • Gallagher, one of the biggest comedy acts of the 1980s, died on Friday.
  • He was known best for smashing things on stage with a giant sledgehammer.
  • He died surrounded by his family on Friday morning, his longtime manager Craig Marquardo told Insider.

Gallagher, who was best known in the 1980s for his carnival-like comic routine that featured him smashing watermelons and other things on stage with a sledgehammer, died Friday morning at the age of 76, his longtime manager Craig Marquardo confirmed to Insider.

“After a short health battle, Gallagher, born Leo Gallagher, succumbed to his ailments and passed away surrounded by his family at home in Palm Springs, California,” Marquardo said in a statement.

Gallagher in 1980.

Betty Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty

The beloved comic became one of the biggest acts in the country in the 1980s thanks to his outlandish routine with his sledgehammer, which he referred to as the “Sledge-O-Matic.”

Comedy specials and appearances on MTV fueled his popularity and his non-stop touring schedule. In 2012, he announced he would be retiring after having a heart attack. However, he hit the road again in 2019 for his “Last Smash” farewell tour.

Born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Gallagher earned a chemical engineering degree from the University of South Florida, but his true calling was entertainment. He quickly headed out to Los Angeles and developed his unique style of comedy.

Gallagher is survived by his son Barnaby and daughter Aimee.


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