Hollywood pays tribute to 'Laverne & Shirley' star David Lander: 'RIP Squiggy'

Elise Solé
·5 min read

Celebrity tributes are in for Laverne & Shirley star David Lander who died on Friday at age 73, including from Michael McKean who played “Lenny” to David’s “Squiggy” on the classic television show.

The actor’s wife Kathy Lander told TMZ that David died at 6:30 p.m. at Los Angeles’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center due to complications from multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that damages the brain and spinal cord. Kathy and David’s daughter Natalie, and her husband, were by his side at the time of his death.

David played Andrew “Squiggy” Squiggman on the sitcom that aired from 1976 to 1983, with pal Lenny Kosnowski, played by Michael McKean. The tough-talking truck drivers lived upstairs from the show’s namesake characters Laverne DeFazio (played by Penny Marshall, who later became a successful director) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams), best friends and former factory workers.

On Saturday, McKean of Better Call Saul and Batman, posted a vintage photo of the pair standing back-to-back. The men created the legendary characters while attending college at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa., and together joined the cast of Laverne & Shirley, a spin-off of Happy Days, as writers before moving into acting roles.

According to People, David, who played in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Scary Movie, was diagnosed with MS in 1984, but only announced his illness in his 1999 book Fall Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn't Tell Nobody. He was also very involved with MS advocacy.

David L. Lander, depicted in 2013, died on Dec. 4, 2020. (Photo: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
David L. Lander, depicted in 2013, died on Dec. 4, 2020. (Photo: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

The Twiter hashtag #RIPSquiggy took off while celebs shared memories. Comedian Kathy Griffin and Brady Bunch star Maureen McCormck left heartbreak emojis under McKean’s post while director Kevin Smith tweeted, “This funny man made my childhood happier with his work on “Laverne & Shirley” and his guest appearance on @TheSimpsons as himself still makes me laugh today (“Hello, Laverne...”). Rest In Peace David, and thank you: There’s a little Lenny & Squiggy in the DNA of Jay & Silent Bob.”

“So sorry Michael,” wrote retired NBA star Rex Chapman.

Saverio Guerra, who played “Mocha Joe” on Curb Your Enthusiasm, said he took inspiration from Lander, whose character’s enthusiastic greeting — Hello! — was his calling card. “So sad to hear of David's passing,” he tweeted. “When I was on the show Becker, I had little tributes to the actors I spent my youth watching on sitcoms. The leather jacket I wore was my nod to [Henry Winkler’s “Fonzi” character from Happy Days] and some of my character’s entrances were my little tribute to Lenny and Squiggy.”

He added, “So thank you David. You’ll never know how much those ‘Hellos’ meant to me.”

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the film franchise tweeted, “Awful news. He will be sorely missed. I'll never forget how I nearly injured myself laughing when I first saw you guys in The Credibility Gap. Then came Lenny & Squiggy & the laughs just kept coming. I'll always be grateful for that.”

McKean’s Better Call Saul co-star Rhea Seahorn left multiple heart emojis on his post while Rob Reiner recalled, “David and I met when we were both 19. He and Michael KcKean auditioned for Lenny and Sguiggy by just improvising in front of Garry Marshall at a party at Penny and my house. He was brilliant then and forever after. He will be missed.” “Hello!” — was a mainstay on Laverne & Shirley.

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the film franchise tweeted, “Awful news. He will be sorely missed. I'll never forget how I nearly injured myself laughing when I first saw you guys in The Credibility Gap. Then came Lenny & Squiggy & the laughs just kept coming. I'll always be grateful for that.”

McKean’s Better Call Saul co-star Rhea Seahorn left multiple heart emojis on his post while Rob Reiner recalled, “David and I met when we were both 19. He and Michael KcKean auditioned for Lenny and Sguiggy by just improvising in front of Garry Marshall at a party at Penny and my house. He was brilliant then and forever after. He will be missed.”

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