Gallagher, watermelon-smashing comedian, has died
Gallagher, the comedian best-known for smashing watermelons and other stuff with his Sledge-O-Matic sledgehammer, died on Friday (11/11) from organ failure. He was 76. Variety reports that he had been in hospice care following a series of heart attacks.
Born July 24, 1946 in Fort Bragg, NC, Leo Gallagher got his start as comic musician Jim Stafford's road manager and started working on his own act, working his way up through the L.A. comedy circuit. He struck a chord with bit parodying television pitch-men with the "Sledge-O-Matic," a giant sledgehammer that could pulverize anything with one blow and sent chunks of watermelon flying into the audience. That bit took off and made him a comedy star in '80s with numerous cable TV specials, including Showtime's first-ever comedy special.
From there, Gallagher's career took some surprising turns. In the '90s, he gave his brother, Ron Gallagher, permission to do the Sledge-O-Matic act on the road as long as he made it clear that it was Ron, not Leo, performing. Ron kept performing as Gallagher until Leo sued him for trademark violations in 2000. His act also became increasingly problematic. but he continued to tour and do stand-up until the Covid pandemic