COMEDIAN Leo Anthony Gallagher, widely known as Gallagher, has died, according to his manager. TMZ said that Gallagher died early on the morning of November 11, 2022, in the Palm Springs area, where he was getting hospice care.
Read on to find out what happened to the icon that caused it to die.
Gallagher’s Cause of Death
Gallagher, a comedian best known for his watermelon-smashing act and many popular specials in the 1980s, died early Friday morning, his manager Craig Marquardo said. He was 76.
Marquardo told CNN that the comedian died “after a short health battle” and “passed away in Palm Springs, California, surrounded by his family.” Gallagher, who was born Leo Gallagher, became well-known in the early 1980s because of a comedy special called “An Uncensored Evening.” This was the first stand-up comedy special ever shown on cable TV, according to an obituary that Marquardo shared.
Gallagher’s most famous act was when he used a sledgehammer he made himself and called the “Sledge-O-Matic” to smash food on stage and spray the audience with it. “He also liked to take credit for the way he physically involved the audience in this way,” the obituary said.
Gallagher was born on July 24, 1946, in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to parents with Irish and Croatian roots. He lived in Lorain, Ohio, until he was nine years old. Because he had asthma, his family moved to South Tampa, Florida, where he went to H.B. Plant High School. He went on to get a degree in chemical engineering from the University of South Florida in 1970. He took English literature as a minor.
How Did Gallagher Start his Career?
After college, Gallagher started working as the road manager for the comedian and musician Jim Stafford. In 1969, Stafford and Gallagher went to California, where Gallagher decided to start performing himself.
While going to both The Comedy Store and The Ice House, he started working on his own comedy act. Even though Johnny Carson didn’t like prop comedy, he appeared twice on The Tonight Show when he was the host.
He first appeared on the show on December 5, 1975, when he showed off his prop, “The Tonight Show Home Game.” He returned on May 9, 1979. He also did a few performances on the show when Carson wasn’t there and the host was someone else. Gallagher also appeared on The Mike Douglas Show and The Merv Griffin Show. He showed up at Playboy Clubs more than once.
An Uncensored Evening, Gallagher’s first comedy special, was the first stand-up comedy special to ever air on cable TV. Gallagher stayed mostly a touring comedian, unlike other popular stand-up comedians of the time who moved on to sitcoms and movies. He once said that he did “200 shows a year for 35 years.” According to Variety magazine, he did more than 3,500 live shows in his lifetime.
Gallagher finished 16th out of 135 candidates in the 2003 California recall election for governor. He ran as an independent and got 5,466 votes.
Gallagher’s Last Show
The New York Times says that Gallagher quit performing in 2012 after having two heart attacks. He eventually went out on the road again, but he stopped before the Coronavirus pandemic. Gallagher’s last stand-up comedy show on TV was on Gotham Comedy Live in 2014.
Gallagher is one of the people who will be remembered long after they have died. He is also the person we will always remember.
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