Gallagher, Watermelon-Smashing Comedian, Dies at 76

Gallagher, the comedian famed for smashing watermelons in his act, died Friday of organ failure, his agent Roger Paul confirmed to TheWrap. He was 76.

He died in Palm Springs under hospice care, TMZ reported, after years of battling serious health problems including multiple heart attacks.

Born Leo Gallagher in 1946, the comedian deployed his observational and prop comedy in multiple specials on HBO, Showtime and MTV. According to his website, he was the top-rated comedian in both ticket sales and ratings for 15 years, and performed 3,500 live shows throughout his decades-long career.

Gallagher rose to fame through his “Sledge-O-Matic” bit, a parody of the Veg-O-Matic commericals. The sketch involved the comedian smashing various foods, always culminating in the destruction of a watermelon. People with seats in the first few rows often brought plastic tarps and umbrellas as protection from pulpy projectiles.

Towards the end of his career, he acted in the film “The Book of Daniel” (2013) and appeared in a series of Geico commercials. The actor Paul F. Tompkins recently portrayed him in “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.”

Gallagher is survived by his two children.

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