Gallagher, comedian known for smashing watermelons, dies at 76

FILE - Gallagher (Leo Anthony Gallagher, Jr.), a popular American entertainer, particularly during the 1980s, performs a prop comedy routine at the Cheyenne Civic Center on February 14, 1990, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. (Photo by Mark Junge/Getty Images)

Gallagher, the comedian known for smashing watermelons as part of his act, has died. He was 76. 

Leo Anthony Gallagher Jr., who went by his "Gallagher" stage name, died on Friday morning in Palm Springs, California, his longtime former manager confirmed with Fox News Digital. 

He had been in hospice care, according to TMZ.


FILE - Comedian Gallagher (Leo Gallagher Jr.) wearing A Creem Magazine T-Shirt poses for a portrait at home in July 1980 in Los Angeles, California. 

"After a short health battle, Gallagher, born Leo Gallagher, succumbed to his ailments and passed away surrounded by his family in Palm Springs, California. He had previously suffered numerous heart attacks, something he and David Letterman talked about on an appearance a few years back," a statement said.

Gallagher became a popular and recognizable comedian in the 1980s, rising to fame from a signature bit he did with a hand-made sledgehammer he dubbed the "Sledge-O-Matic." Using a large wooden mallet, he would smash various items, ending with a watermelon.

He gained more popularity with his comedy special "An Uncensored Evening', which was directed by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees fame, according to the statement. He went on to do 12 more for Showtime over the next 27 years — a figure only George Carlin surpassed, the statement added.

Gallagher continued touring for decades, known for his inventive props.

"While Gallagher had his detractors, he was an undeniable talent and an American success story," the statement concluded.

The comedian leaves behind his son, Barnaby, and daughter, Aimee.

This story was reported from Cincinnati.