Comedian Gallagher, famous for his on-stage watermelon smashing act, died Friday morning at the age of 76 as a result of massive organ failure.
The comedian’s long time manager reported that he was in hospice care in the Palm Springs area after suffering from ill health. He had endured numerous heart attacks over the past several years, according to TMZ.
“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,” the representative told TMZ. “While Gallagher had his detractors, he was an undeniable talent and an American success story.”
Gallagher rose to fame after his 1975 appearnace on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show,” where he debuted his prop humor. He quickly became one of the most popular comedians in America, according to TMZ.
Fans flocked to see Gallagher’s trademark bit, which included a large mallet used to destroy a variety of food items and inanimate objects. The routine always ended with Gallagher’s signature watermelon smashing, according to TMZ.
His “Sledge-O-Matic” bit was parodied by many other comedians, including Paul F. Tompkins, who displayed his version of the bit in “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.” (RELATED: Legendary Director Jean-Luc Godard Dead At 91)
The comedian was featured in 17 specials that documented his talents. His first special, “An Uncensored Evening,” debuted in 1980. Gallagher guest-starred in several episodes of “Hollywood Squares,” as well as “WTF with Marc Maron” and “Celebrity Big Brother,” according to TMZ.
Gallagher’s heart health became the topic of concern in 2011 when he collapsed on stage while performing in Minnesota. He also suffered a heart attack in Texas in 2012 moments before he was scheduled to perform on stage.
Gallagher is survived by his daughter, Aimee, and his son, Barnaby. He will be fondly remembered by his wide network of fans, friends and family members.