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Gallagher, the melon-smashing comic, dies at 76

Gallagher, the uninhibited prop comedian greatest recognized for pulverizing watermelons — and various different foodstuff — with a sledgehammer he known as a Sledge-O-Matic, has died. He was 76.

The comic, whose first identify was Leo, died Friday of organ failure in Palm Springs, his longtime supervisor, Craig Marquardo, mentioned. He had been in hospice care.

He had beforehand suffered quite a few coronary heart assaults, one thing he and David Letterman talked about on an look just a few years again, Marquardo mentioned in a press release asserting the comic’s demise.

Gallagher suffered a minor coronary heart assault in Arizona on March 25, 2012, 11 days after he was hospitalized for a coronary heart assault in Lewisville, Texas. In Texas, he reportedly was put in a medically induced coma for 4 days and had two coronary stents changed. He additionally suffered a coronary heart assault whereas on stage in a membership in Minnesota in 2011.

The melon-smashing comic, whose comedy specials grew to become a staple on Showtime within the Eighties, was impressed to create his signature Sledge-O-Matic by the Veg-O-Matic operated by hand meals slicer seen in TV commercials (“It slices! It dices!”).

Throughout his reveals, the sledgehammer-wielding Gallagher may ship mayonnaise, mustard, honey, chocolate syrup, grapes, olives, cottage cheese and eggs flying into the viewers — to not point out “pound cake,” “cheeseburgers to go” and that “last dab of toothpaste.”

Certainly, the primary 10 rows at a Gallagher present have been referred to as Dying Row.

Followers typically got here ready for the onslaught, sporting outdated garments and plastic rain ponchos; official Gallagher ponchos, naturally, additionally have been on sale within the foyer.

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Gallagher was born July 24, 1946, in Fort Bragg, N.C., and grew up in Ohio and Florida.

He acquired a level in chemical engineering from the College of South Florida in 1970 and labored because the highway supervisor for singer-songwriter Jim Stafford earlier than turning to stand-up comedy within the late ‘70s.

The impish comic with the wild fringe of long hair and a mustache always had new firepower up his colorful sleeve.

“People think it’s about watermelons,” he advised the Idaho Statesman earlier than an look in 2000. “But wait till they see three dozen eggs in a wok frying pan with miniature marshmallows. The 45-degree angle of a wok makes the marshmallows and eggs go out the furthest they can.

“The eggs are the explosions and the marshmallows are like shrapnel. Some things explode, and some things have aerodynamics.”

Gallagher additionally was recognized to ask viewers members onstage to get into his food-smashing act.

At one level within the Eighties, Gallagher’s act included an unlimited sofa with a built-in trampoline on which he did some spectacular leaping. And digging into the sofa’s cushion crack, the comic turned up an outsized potato chip and different “lost” gadgets.

Gallagher’s prop bins additionally contained uncommon issues reminiscent of a “handgun” (a pistol that fired plastic palms) and a “baby on board” (a doll nailed to a picket plank.)

However his act wasn’t solely props and a flying-food finale.

He’d riff on cultural developments, politics, relationships and different matters, in addition to supply meals for thought:

“What makes Teflon stick to the pan?”

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“If your knees bent the other way, what would a chair look like?”

“Did Superman’s mom bother to wrap his presents?”

As he mentioned in a 1993 Occasions interview: “It’s the child in you I’m trying to entertain.”

Gallagher additionally introduced a little bit of humor to the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election when he joined a area of 135 candidates that included former youngster star Gary Coleman, Hustler journal writer Larry Flynt, adult-film actress Mary Carey — and front-running eventual winner Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“I was the first ‘not really serious about being governor’ guy to go down there and be a celebrity that wanted publicity from the race,” Gallagher mentioned in an interview with Scripps Howard Information Service a month after he completed in sixteenth place, with 5,466 votes.

Within the early Nineties, when he was performing in theaters and different giant venues, Gallagher allowed his youthful brother, Ron, to carry out a reproduction of his act in comedy golf equipment.

Ron Gallagher was billed as Gallagher II: The Residing Sequel.

However in 1999, Gallagher filed a swimsuit in federal courtroom that mentioned Ron was “violating Gallagher’s right of publicity and trademark rights and was engaging in false advertising and unfair competition, thereby creating consumer confusion.”

In 2000, a federal choose issued a everlasting injunction towards Ron Gallagher that prohibited him from performing an imitation of his well-known brother’s act.

In more moderen years, Gallagher acquired criticism for making racist, sexist and homophobic remarks onstage towards French and Mexican folks, feminists and members of the LGBTQ neighborhood.

When the accusations have been talked about throughout a podcast taping with comic Marc Maron in 2011, the comedian responded by strolling out.

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Occasions workers author Summer season Lin contributed to this report.

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