Gallagher, watermelon smashing comedian, dead at 76

Gallagher, the long-haired, smash-’em-up comedian who left a trail of laughter, anger and shattered watermelons over a decadeslong career, has died at age 76. Craig Marquardo, in a statement identifying himself as Gallagher’s “longtime former manager,” said the comedian died Friday at his home in Palm Springs, California, after a brief illness. Gallagher, a Fort Bragg, North Carolina, native started out as road manager for comedian/musician Jim Stafford in 1960 and soon began performing himself, honing his act at the Comedy Store and other clubs. Sledgehammer in hand, he would apply his full muscle to apples, grapes, lettuce and other produce, most famously the inevitable watermelon, with audience members in front showered in food bits.