Gallagher, watermelon-smashing comedian and stand-up star, dies at 76

Gallagher, the beloved comedian who rose to prominence on The Tonight Show and famously smashed watermelons throughout his illustrious stand-up career, has died at age 76.

The star died at his home in Palm Springs, Calif, early Friday morning, The New York Times reports.


Everett Collection Stand-up comedian Gallagher has died at 76.

Gallagher's manager, Craig Marquardo, told the outlet the comic died from organ failure following "numerous heart attacks" throughout his life.

After launching his career on a 1975 episode of Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show, Gallagher proclaimed himself to be the "Wizard of Odd," regularly performing outlandish acts with food during his sets, such as splattering watermelon, cantaloupes, and cottage cheese.

He also fronted 13 solo specials on Showtime and more on HBO, and appeared in several memorable Budweiser ads — including a commercial in which he used a watermelon as a bowling ball. The Times reports he had more than 100 concert dates a year for three decades, across which he destroyed over 15,000 melons using his sledgehammer of choice, the "Sledge-O-Matic."

In addition to his work in live comedy, Gallagher — whose real first name was Leo — appeared on television in The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and in the 2013 movie The Book of Daniel.

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