Died – Loss of life – Obituary
Gallagher, watermelon-smashing comic, is lifeless at 76
Gallagher, who grew to become one of the recognizable comedians of the Eighties for an outrageous act that all the time concluded with him smashing a watermelon with a sledgehammer, died Friday at his residence in Palm Springs, California. He was 76.
His dying was confirmed by his longtime former supervisor, Craig Marquardo, who mentioned the trigger was organ failure after “quite a few coronary heart assaults” over the course of Gallagher’s life.
The self-proclaimed “Wizard of Odd,” Gallagher — his first title was Leo, though for a few years he refused to disclose it — mentioned his job was to “yell on the world.” To the hundreds of his front-row followers who have been honored, or no less than not visibly offended, by being splattered with cantaloupes, cottage cheese and all method of different groceries, Gallagher provided himself as an exuberant launch from life’s strains.
In a 1984 interview with The Miami Herald, he spoke of individuals’s worries about cash, household and duties. “Should you make enjoyable of it, the individuals snicker,” he mentioned. “They launch the strain and are in some way healed — a bit.”
Along with reaching the rarefied place of going by only one title like Cher or Madonna, Gallagher was the star of greater than a dozen one-man specials on Showtime and a collection of Budweiser commercials, together with one by which he used a watermelon as a bowling ball. He performed greater than 100 live performance dates a yr for greater than 30 years, obliterating greater than 15,000 melons.
Adorned with a mustache, shoulder-length hair and, for a lot of his profession, a cap or beret, he wrote his personal jokes and traveled with 15 footlockers of props, amongst them a “handgun” that fired plastic arms.
In 1987, United Press Worldwide reported that researchers at Loma Linda College in Southern California finding out laughter took blood samples from 10 medical college students whereas they watched Gallagher in motion. Not solely did they snicker uproariously; their white blood cells elevated. The comic, the scientists mentioned, appeared to have boosted the themes’ immune methods.
Gallagher named his celebrated sledgehammer the Sledge-O-Matic, a play on the Veg-O-Matic, the gadget for slicing and dicing fruit and veggies in a single stroke that was ballyhooed in numerous tv commercials within the Nineteen Sixties and ’70s. His message: “Why don’t you hit it with a hammer if you’d like it in little items?”
A lot of Gallagher’s humor was based mostly on wordplay. ( “I don’t know why they are saying you will have a child. The infant has you.” “If professional is the other of con, is progress the other of Congress?”) However he additionally prided himself on being outrageous and even offensive, defying political correctness. (Deaf individuals, he mentioned, needs to be required to reside close to airports.) Many individuals, particularly in his later years, felt his jokes about racial teams, homosexual individuals and girls crossed a line.
“Go searching — see any Mexicans?” he mentioned throughout one 2010 present. “They’ll be right here later for the cleanup.”
In 2011, Gallagher was a visitor on his fellow comic Marc Maron’s podcast however walked out when Maron requested him about this and comparable jokes. Some critics agreed that his act had gone too far. However he by no means toned it down.
In 2003, when Gov. Grey Davis of California was recalled, Gallagher was one in all 135 candidates vying to exchange him; he ran on the slogan “Lastly, a governor you will get drunk with.” Operating on a platform demanding, amongst different issues, that the state dispatch huge helicopters to right away carry automobiles from accident websites, he completed sixteenth.
Leo Anthony Gallagher Jr. was born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on July 24, 1946. He lived in Ohio till he was round 10, when his household moved to Tampa, Florida. His father owned a roller-skating rink, and younger Leo, nicknamed Butch, grew to become a regional skating champion. He was expelled on the final day of highschool for insubordination, however when a steerage counselor interceded, he was allowed to graduate. He was twenty ninth in a category of 600.
He went on to the College of South Florida, the place he majored in English literature and orchestrated a protest in opposition to cafeteria meals. He parked a trailer with a dozen pigs by the cafeteria’s entrance and urged college students to feed the pigs their leftover meals. When officers advised him that the meals should be washed earlier than being fed to the pigs, he mentioned his level was made.
After graduating in 1970, Gallagher labored as a salesman for a chemical firm in Chicago. He was fired after arriving for work dressed as a gangster, carrying a pretend Thompson submachine gun.
He then moved again to Tampa, the place he drove a cab, bused tables and labored as a carpenter. He grew to become highway supervisor for singer and comic Jim Stafford, who would have successful document in 1974 with “Spiders and Snakes.” Gallagher quickly began performing comedy himself.
His rise to fame was gradual however regular. Within the early Seventies he grew to become a daily on the Comedy Retailer in Los Angeles. He appeared on “The Tonight Present Starring Johnny Carson” in 1975. Two years later he was featured on the HBO “Younger Comedians Particular.” His first Showtime particular, “Gallagher: An Uncensored Night,” aired in 1980.
Within the early Nineties, when his youthful brother Ron misplaced his job as a bulldozer salesperson, Gallagher helped him out by permitting Ron, who bore some resemblance to him, to carry out a facsimile of his act. Ron Gallagher added touches like smashing a lobster with a hammer and was quickly performing in small venues.
After a couple of years, Ron Gallagher started billing himself as Gallagher II (generally Gallagher Too or Gallagher Two). Leo Gallagher had not agreed to this billing and was involved that it was deceptive, so in 1999 he sued to cease his brother from performing underneath that title. The go well with, filed in federal court docket in Michigan, claimed that Ron had “violated Gallagher’s proper of publicity and trademark rights.”
An injunction was granted prohibiting Ron Gallagher from performing any act that impersonated his brother. The choose ordered him to not carry out with “a sledgehammer or different comparable machine to pulverize watermelons, fruits, meals or different objects of any variety,” or to carry out within the “beret, striped shirt, lengthy hair and mustache” that have been Leo Gallagher’s signature look.
Gallagher was twice divorced. Along with his brother Ron, his survivors embody his son, Barnaby; his daughter, Aimee Gallagher; and two grandchildren. Gallagher introduced his retirement from the highway after struggling two coronary heart assaults in 2012, however he ultimately returned and continued to tour till the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. His final televised stand-up efficiency was on “Gotham Comedy Reside” in 2014.
Individuals went to Gallagher performances typically carrying umbrellas and carrying raincoats in anticipation of being splattered, an expertise that followers fondly referred to as “Gallagherizing.” He mentioned a particular deal with was seeing him whack a Chinese language wok stuffed with eggs and miniature marshmallows.
Gallagher couldn’t assist himself. On a sightseeing go to to the ground of the New York Inventory Change in 2003, he discovered a chunk of watermelon in a fruit salad. He promptly smashed it on the top of a ground dealer.
Gallagher, watermelon-smashing comic, is lifeless at 76