Gallagher, melon-smashing comedian who hurled food into audience, dies at 76
Robert Gallagher, whose irreverent character Melinda French was a staple of the Second City stage, died Friday in Chicago. He was 76.
The cause was complications from a fall Friday in his South Side Southport apartment, said his brother, who did not want to be identified because their privacy was under review by Gallagher’s family and his son.
Gallagher was known across the country as “The Melinda French of Chicago.” He made his own money as a businessman and was a successful actor known for his sharp sense of humor and sometimes-brilliant impersonations of his television and radio guests.
“Melinda French was a character, a character that was a part of us,” said Tom Davis, a longtime friend and fellow Second City performer who said he often wondered what his life would have been like had he not played the role. “She would be sitting there, and you would wonder what the hell happened to her.”
The Second City comedy troupe, which was founded in Chicago in the 1970s and then moved to Los Angeles, was an integral part of Chicago’s rich and varied cultural landscape. Gallagher’s own career was also a testament to that diversity: He was an actor, a manager of a video store, a radio personality and a stand-up comedian.
He got his start in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and performed in front of troops overseas, according to a review of his website. During the war, he started a production company that produced a reality television program about the war.
After returning to Chicago he managed a video store with his brother for 15 years and became known as “the voice of the store” for his “one-liners” about the day’s video-store purchases, according to his biography on the website www.melindafrench.com.
In 2004, he was named “Video Store Business Manager of the Year” by the National Association of Video Stores. During his three-decade career, he also became known as a broadcaster for Fox News Channel, CNN