The Devastating Death Of Watermelon-Smashing Comedian Gallagher

Comedian Gallagher got his start on the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson in 1975 and grew into one of the United States' most cherished acts, according to TMZ. He became most well known for using a mallet to smash a series of household items — ending in a watermelon — in a bit called the "Sledge-O-Matic." While this routine began as a parody of Veg-O-Matic commercials, many now consider the bit to be comedic gold.

In fact, Comedy Central ranked Gallagher the 100th best stand-up comedian of all time, a placement he protested, countering that his contributions to comedy should be rewarded with a better rank, per Consequence. The North Carolina native hosted 17 comedy specials during his career and was also recently portrayed by Paul F. Tompkins in the recent film "Weird: the Al Yankovic Story." Gallagher stepped outside the comedy realm in 2003, when he ran for governor of California. He received 5,500 votes and came in 16th place. Tragically, TMZ reported that the comedian passed away on Friday, November 11.

Renowned comedian dies of 'massive organ failure'

Leo Gallagher Jr., known widely as the comedian Gallagher, died in the morning of Friday, November 11, according to TMZ. The "Sledge-O-Matic" performer and watermelon pulverizer was in hospice care in Palm Springs when he died of "massive organ failure." He was 76.

Gallagher's health had been in decline after he suffered several heart attacks over the course of his life, per the Daily News — it had apparently happened enough that it became a topic of discussion when the comedian would appear on late-night shows like David Letterman. He collapsed on stage during a 2011 performance in Minnesota, and, the next year, he had a heart attack before a show in Texas. He last performed in 2014 and was retired at the time of his death.

In his decades-long career, Variety notes that Gallagher performed more than 3,500 stand-up shows and over a dozen filmed hourlong comedy specials, including "the first standup comedy special to ever air on Showtime." His trademark show centered around smashing items with a large mallet while on stage. Gallagher had two children, his daughter Aimee and his son Barnaby, both of whom survived him.