Gallagher, a comedian known for his observational and prop comedy, which included smashing watermelons on stage, died Friday at 76, his longtime manager confirmed.
The comedian died surrounded by his family in Palm Springs, California, after a “short health battle,” former manager Craig Marquardo said in a statement Friday. Gallagher has previously suffered several heart attacks, Marquardo added.
“While he had his detractors, he was an undeniable talent and an American success story,” Marquardo said.
The comedian was born Leo Gallagher in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on July 24, 1946. He rose to stardom in the 1980s with his comedy special “An Uncensored Evening.” He went on to do more than a dozen Showtime specials over the next three decades.
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He is best known for his physically engaging comedy routines, in particular his “Sledge-O-Matic” bit in which he would use a large wooden mallet to smash food and other objects, ending the show with a watermelon.
Gallagher was a top comedian in America for 15 years, according to Marquardo, with his popularity rising thanks to stand-up specials on MTV in its early days.
Comedy Central tweeted a photo of Gallagher Friday, writing: “Gallagher took comedy to another level.”
Comedian Dane Cook also remembered Gallagher on Twitter: “Gallagher once performed a gig in Boston when I was starting out. He had the place erupting with laughter. It was a sight to see. RIP Gallagher.”
Gallagher is survived by a son, Barnaby and a daughter, Aimee.
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