Comedian Gallagher died on Friday, CBS News confirmed. He was 76 years old.
The news was shared by Gallagher manager Craig Marquardo in a statement.
“After a short health battle, Gallagher, born Leo Gallagher, succumbed to his ailments and passed away surrounded by his family in Palm Springs, Calif.,” Marquardo said. The comedian had also suffered “numerous” heart attacks in the past, Marquardo said.
Gallagher credited himself with “audience physical engagement” with his most popular track, where he used a “handmade sledgehammer he dubbed the ‘Sledge-O’Matic'” to smash watermelons on stage and spray them in the audience. Marquardo also said the comedian was known for his “edgy style, brilliant wordplay and inventive props.”
The comedian shot to fame in 1980 with his “An Uncensored Evening” special, the first comedy special ever to air on cable television, according to Marquardo’s statement. Gallagher went on to do 12 more stand-up specials for Showtime over the next 27 years, a record broken only by George Carlin, and was rated “America’s No. 1 comedian for 15 years”.
“While Gallagher had his detractors, he was an undeniable talent and an American achievement,” Marquardo said.
Gallagher’s specials also aired on MTV, and he spent decades road touring the United States. In 2011 he had ain Minnesota, and in 2012 he and was placed in an induced coma.
“He was pretty sure he held the record for the most standing dates just because of attrition,” Marquardo said. Gallagher toured “regularly” until the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020.
The comedian was also a father of two: he had son Barnaby and daughter Aimee, who appeared on his specials at a young age.