Watermelon-smashing comedian Gallagher dead at 76

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(KTLA) — Standup comedian Gallagher, who was known for smashing watermelons as part of his act, has died at age 76, his manager confirmed to multiple media outlets.

Born Leo Anthony Gallagher Jr., he died of organ failure in hospice care in Palm Springs, California, TMZ reports.

Gallagher shot to fame after appearing on late-night television like “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” in the 1970s.

Comedian Gallagher is shown during an interview with host Johnny Carson on Feb. 13, 1979. (Ron Tom/NBC via Getty Images)

He then gained more prominence through 13 comedy specials, beginning with the 1980s “An Uncensored Evening” for Showtime, the network’s first, Variety reported. He also made several programs for HBO.

Even after the height of his fame, his influence persisted through homages and parodies, including on “Chapelle’s Show” in the early 2000s, capturing his trademark smashing of watermelons and other items using his “Sledge-O-Matic” hammer.

On his Facebook page, the comedian promoted performances from as recently as October, noting that he was “feeling great!!” and wanted to work on “projects to make this world a ‘funner planet.’”

This is a developing story.

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