David Lander, who played Squiggy on 'Laverne & Shirley,' dies at 73; Michael McKean, more pay tribute

Rasha Ali, USA TODAY
·3 min read

David Lander, who rose to fame by playing Squiggy on the sitcom "Laverne & Shirley," died Friday at 73 from complications related to multiple sclerosis, which he battled for over 30 years, his wife said.

He was surrounded in Los Angeles by his wife, daughter and son-in-law, Kathy Fields Lander said in an email Saturday to the Associated Press.

“It was very peaceful,” Lander said. “He had a tough battle with MS for 37 years and he persevered like no one I have ever seen, and it taught me a great deal about the important things of life.”

The actor detailed his journey with the disease in a memoir titled "Fall Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn't Tell Nobody." He was diagnosed with MS in 1984, but kept it a secret until 1999.

Lander, born June 22, 1947, in Brooklyn, New York, played Squiggy alongside his longtime friend Michael McKean (Lenny Kosnowski) in "Laverne & Shirley." The two had met at Carnegie Mellon University and later ended up moving to Los Angeles and joining a comedy group called the Credibility Gap.

They built their acting careers together, having both starred in Steven Spielberg's "1941” and Robert Zemeckis' "Used Cars." They also both voiced characters in "Oswald" and released an album as Lenny and the Squigtones, playing off their roles in "Laverne & Shirley."

Just moments before TMZ broke news of Lander's death, McKean simply tweeted out an old photo of Lander and him together.

Though Lander is best known for his role in "Laverne & Shirley," he had many notable credits under his belt. He voiced characters on "Tom & Jerry," "101 Dalmatians: The Series," "Dr. Dolittle 2" and "Garfield." He also had roles on "Twin Peaks," "Married with Children" and "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" among others.

Fans and celebrities took to social media Saturday to share their condolences and pay tribute to Lander.

"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," tweeted @ThatKevinSmith.

Saverio Guerra wrote: "So sad to hear of David's passing. 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 @hwinkler4real and some of my characters entrances were my little Tribute to Lenny and squiggy."

Larry Karaszewski gave a nod to Lander and McKean's album, writing "RIP David Lander – his work with the Credibility Gap totally shaped the boundaries of 1970s comedy. This album is a masterpiece – hysterical from start to finish."

Contributing: Associated Press

More: Penny Marshall, 'A League of Their Own' director and TV's 'Laverne,' dies at 75

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: David Lander, Squiggy on 'Laverne & Shirley,' dies at 73