Gallagher, the long-haired, smash-’em-up comedian who left a trail of laughter, anger, and shattered watermelons over a decadeslong career, whose full name is Leo Anthony Gallagher Jr., has died at age 76.
The news was confirmed to TMZ by Gallagher’s longtime manager, Craig Marquardo, who specified that he died of massive organ failure on November 11 while in hospice care in Palm Springs. His death follows a long battle with multiple health issues, including numerous heart attacks, one of which he suffered onstage in Minnesota in 2011. Gallagher is survived by his two children, Aimee and Barnaby.
Gallagher was best known for his 1980 comedy special “An Uncensored Evening” and for his “Sledge-O-Matic” routine where he would smash watermelons and other objects with a mallet.
Gallagher also became famous for his witty wordplay and sharp observational comedy.
“Gallagher stayed on the road touring America for decades. He was pretty sure he held a record for the most stand-up dates, by attrition alone,” Gallagher’s representative told TMZ. “While Gallagher had his detractors, he was an undeniable talent and an American success story.”
Gallagher, who was born in North Carolina, was a comedy institution who honed his act at the Comedy Store in L.A. and got his first mainstream break performing on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson in 1975. He released 17 comedic specials between 1980 and 2014, becoming a fixture on HBO, Showtime, and Comedy Central (where his specials were re-broadcast).
His outsize impact on pop culture can be felt in the many references and parodies he inspired. Most recently, he was portrayed by Paul F. Tompkins in the pseudo–Weird Al Yankovic biopic Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.
According to Western Journal, Gallagher famously walked out of an interview with Marc Maron during a 2011 episode of WTF that helped contribute to the show’s rise to prominence.
Maron accused him of being racist and attacking gay people, to which Gallagher responded: “Let’s say I tell a joke about a white middle-class man. Does anybody say why do I not like white middle-class men?”
He added, “And what am I making jokes about? I’m making jokes about people who don’t complain.”
When pressed on political labels given to him by the media, such as being “right-wing,” and by Maron, who said he likely was more “libertarian,” Gallagher said he didn’t care about any of that and that he only tells jokes that get a laugh.
“I’m a comic!” Gallagher said.
He added, “I have two stents in my heart. I could die during this interview,” to which Maron responded: “That would be spectacular. That would be a great interview. I would leave it running when the paramedics come.”
The 44-minute interview got heated, and Gallagher walked out after complaining that Maron was “taking the other side of everything I say.”
Maron re-shared the interview after hearing of Gallagher’s death.
‘Oh, come on, Gallagher.’ He was a one of a kind. A singular entertainer. A difficult man. RIP Gallagher (if possible). https://t.co/j9IKC4vhJP
— marc maron (@marcmaron) November 11, 2022
Watch the video report below for more details: