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Gallagher the watermelon-smashing comedian has died at 76 : NPR


Comedian Gallagher whisks off strawberry syrup and flour at the end of his performance at the Five Flags Theater in Dubuque, Iowa, on November 18, 2006.

Jeremy Portje / Telegraph Herald via AP, File


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Jeremy Portje / Telegraph Herald via AP, File


Comedian Gallagher whisks off strawberry syrup and flour at the end of his performance at the Five Flags Theater in Dubuque, Iowa, on November 18, 2006.

Jeremy Portje / Telegraph Herald via AP, File

NEW YORK – Gallagher, the shaggy, long-haired comedian who left behind a trail of laughter, anger and crumbling watermelons in a career spanning decades, has died aged 76 .

Craig Marquardo, in a statement identifying himself as Gallagher’s “longtime former manager,” said he died Friday at his home in Palm Springs, California, after a brief illness. Gallagher has suffered multiple heart attacks over the years, including one shortly before a scheduled performance in Texas in 2012.

With a beret on his head and a few simple props, from an oil can to a bullwhip, man born Leo Anthony Gallagher Jr built a following nationwide in the 1970s and 1980, appeared on the show “Tonight” with Johnny Carson and starred in many Showtime specials. His actions include observational humor (“What about Easter? Whose idea is to give eggs to a jumping animal”), political commentary (“They don’t call taxes a tax. They call it that. is an income booster”), sports invention (Synchronous Ping-Pong) and the destruction of his trademark Sledge-O-Matic.

“Ladies and gentlemen! I’m not here tonight just to make fun of you. I’m here to sell you something, and I want your special attention!” he will call by his fastest impersonation of a late night television pitcher. “Who did the wonderful Master Tool Corporation, a subsidiary of Fly-By-Night Industries, entrust? Me! Show you! The most beautiful and beautiful kitchen tool you’ll ever see.”

In his hand with a sledgehammer, he would then apply his full muscle to apples, grapes, lettuce and other produce, most famously the inevitable watermelon, with spectators in front bathe in every morsel of food.

Gallagher, a Fort Bragg, North Carolina native, started his career in 1960 as a road manager for comedian/musician Jim Stafford and quickly began performing on his own, honing his acting skills at the Comedy Store and other shows. other clubs. He’s not the only funny guy in the family: his younger brother Ron has become a comedian, received Leo’s original wishes and looks and acts more like his more famous brother. I made some audience members not sure who they came to see. Leo Gallagher eventually secured a court order banning his brother from using his habits.

Elder Gallagher has become increasingly controversial in recent years, being punished for racist and homophobic remarks. Gallagher even cut short a 2011 interview with Marc Maron after the WTF podcast host confronted him about his claims.

“Am I the problem?!” Gallagher said at one point. “Do you think that when I die, gay people will finally have a chance in America? Did I really hold them back?”

In 2003, Gallagher was among more than 100 candidates running in the California governor recall election, won by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Over the past decade, Gallagher has appeared in a Geico commercial and in the movie “The Book Of Daniel.”

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