Watermelon-Smashing Comedian Gallagher Dies at 76

Gallagher
Everett Collection

Comedian Gallagher, best known for smashing watermelons with a giant mallet during his stand-up routines has died. The entertainer was 76 years old.

According to TMZ, Gallagher’s death was confirmed by his longtime manager. The comedian died under hospice care in the Palm Springs area early Friday, November 11. The performer is said to have had massive organ failure and had been in poor health over the past several years, suffering more than one heart attack.

Gallagher in 'We Need a Hero'

Gallagher in We Need a Hero (Credit: Everett Collection)

“Gallagher stayed on the road touring America for decades. He was pretty sure he held a record for the most stand-up dates, by attrition alone,” the rep told the outlet. “While Gallagher had his detractors, he was an undeniable talent and an American success story.” Gallagher began his career after attending college, and his big break arrived when he made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1975.

At the time, Gallagher showed off his prop humor and quickly became one of America’s most recognizable comedians. His trademark though was the “Sledge-O-Matic,” an act in which he’d use a large mallet to destroy food and objects, always ending with his signature Watermelon. In recent years, Gallagher’s legacy lives on in pop culture.

In the recently-released film Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, Gallagher was included with Paul F. Tompkins playing the role in the Daniel Radcliffe-led movie. Throughout his career, Gallagher had 17 specials spanning decades, starting with An Uncensored Evening which was released in 1980. Along with specials, Gallagher also made several TV appearances on shows like Hollywood Squares, Tosh.0, and Celebrity Big Brother.

The comedian is survived by his daughter Aimee, and son, Barnaby.