NEW YORK (A P) — Gallagher, the long-haired, smash-’em-up comedian who left a trail of laughter, anger and shattered watermelons over a decadeslong career, has died at age 76.
Craig Marquardo, in a statement identifying himself as Gallagher’s “longtime former manager,” said that he died Friday at his home in Palm Springs, California, after a brief illness.
With a beret on his head and a few simple props, from a can of oil to a bull whip, the man born Leo Anthony Gallagher Jr. built a nationwide following in the 1970s and ‘80s, appearing on the “Tonight” show with Johnny Carson and starring in numerous Showtime specials. His act included observational humor (“What about Easter? Whose idea was it to give eggs to an animal that hops”), political commentary (“They don’t call a tax a tax. They call it a revenue enhancer”), invented sports (synchronized Ping- Pong) and his trademark Sledge-O- Matic destruction.
Sledgehammer in hand, he would then apply his full muscle to apples, grapes, lettuce and other produce, most famously the inevitable watermelon, with audience members in front showered in food bits.