Leo Anthony Gallagher Jr., 76, a well-known comedian from the 1980s who performed under the stage name “Gallagher,” died Friday.
The comedian died in a California hospice of organ failure, his former manager Craig Marquardo confirmed, according to a Variety report.
Gallagher rocketed to fame when he conducted the first-ever comedy special on cable TV. His Showtime special, “An Uncensored Evening,” made him a household name when cable was just beginning. Gallagher created 12 more Showtime comedy specials during his career, along with some programs for HBO, the report added.
Unlike many comedians of that era, Gallagher kept peforming before live audiences in venues across America. He performed his act for over 40 years, until COVID-19 lockdowns closed comedy clubs. He performed his act more than 3,500 times, according to the Variety report.
Gallagher’s best known skit involved a sledgehammer dubbed the “Sledge-O-Matic,” which was a riff on a ubiqutous TV infomercials of the time. The Ronco “Veg-O-Matic” had aired on commercials for decades and most TV viewers knew that “It slices, it dices and so much more.”
The comedian’s “Sledge-O-Matic” was used to smash fruit and vegetables, which would invariably spray onto audience members. The star of the show was the watermelon used in the finale.
Audiences seated in the first few rows at Gallagher performances usually “wore tarps and raincoats to protect themselves from the onslaught of foods,” according to a Daily Wire report.
A woman named Robin Vann sued Gallagher in the 90s for injuries she alleged occurred during his show. Vann asked the court for $100,000 in damages. The plaintiff claimed head injuries caused her to miss six months of work after Gallagher lost control of a penguin prop that hit her. The court ruled in favor of Gallagher, who said the water-spouting penguin had slid harmlessly off a table without hitting anyone, according to a 1993 Los Angeles Times report.
Defense attorneys showed Vann claimed to suffer head and neck pain from a car accident a year after the Gallagher incident, the Times report added.
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