Gallagher’s Watermelon Smashing Career Ended at 76 Years Old

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The Sledge-O-Matic will no longer pound watermelons into pulp. The rollerskates have been hung up. The bowler cap with the attached wig has no head to rest upon. The melon-crazed madman of comedy known as Gallagher has passed on to the great unknown at age 76.

Leo Gallagher, a comedian who had an amazingly successful run with numerous HBO and Showtime specials throughout the 1970s and 1980s, died in hospice care on November 11th. According to TMZ, his health, which had declined for years, led to massive organ failure. He is survived by his two children, Barnaby and Aimee.

When checking his official website, there’s no mention of his death, and the page’s copyright appears not to have been updated since 2020. However, Aimee is listed as the contact, so I believe she was acting as his manager or booking agent in these later years. I was hoping to find more info about Gallagher’s recent life, but there’s not much to go on.

Typically I would not cover a comedian’s death here since he isn’t strictly connected to the topics we usually cover. However, Gallagher was a pop culture icon, and his importance to the evolution of standup cannot be understated. Moreover, he was willing to go large regarding his comedy specials. Whether it meant rollerskating around the stage or trampolining on a giant couch, Leo wanted to ensure that you got your money’s worth when seeing him.

Sadly, Leo Gallagher couldn’t continue to pull in the audiences he once did in the 1980s and even in the mid-’90s. His brand of prop comedy mixed with observational humor regarding politics, economics, and celebrities was becoming stale as the 2000s approached.

Other comedians were becoming edgier, and on-stage props were no longer making audiences laugh. I can say this from a first-hand perspective. I saw one of Gallagher’s last big shows in 1996 at the USF Sun Dome. The crowd’s reaction was lessened than when I saw him in 1992 at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. However, his energy had changed; four years later, he was rehashing many of the same gags and jokes over a couple of years past their sell-by date.

After that, the legendary comedian and his Sledge-O-Matic faded from memory. I’d only happened to notice he was still touring in the 2000s by pure accident. I was dating someone who booked venues, and she told me that one of her clients was Gallagher. I seriously thought he had retired. Then, again, he drifted out of memory until last year when I came across this video:

That was 11 years ago. Things did not get much better for Gallagher, unfortunately. However, we still have his various comedy specials, which can be found on multiple streaming platforms. For “lost media” enthusiasts, there is a special Gallagher did for VH1 in 1992 that has not made its way to a modern video format. It was called I Can Make a Video Too? which also starred his daughter Aimee. I recorded it on VHS, but all of my tapes went in the garbage decades ago.

Let us know your favorite Gallagher memories in the comments section below.

[Source: TMZ]

Mike Phalin

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