David Lander, the comedian and actor behind a beloved character from ABC sitcom Laverne & Shirley, passed away on Dec. 4 following a decades-long battle with multiple sclerosis. He was 73 years old.
According to CNN, Lander was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1984, and he kept his illness secret until the 1999 release of his memoir, Fall Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn't Tell Nobody.
Born David Leonard Landau and billed professionally as David L. Lander, the Brooklyn, New York native played Andrew "Squiggy" Squiggman, Laverne and Shirley's greaser neighbor and the partner in crime of Lenny, portrayed by future This is Spinal Tap star Michael McKean.
Lander and McKean's comedic partnership predates their run on Laverne & Shirley, a Happy Days spin-off that focuses on Laverne DeFazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney's (Cindy Williams) life in Milwaukee. The two friends met at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and went on to join the Los Angeles-based comedy troupe The Credibility Gap, which also included future Spinal Tap member Harry Shearer.
The third constant member of Spinal Tap, Christopher Guest, debuted the Nigel Tufnel character on the 1979 album Lenny & Squiggy Present Lenny and the Squigtones.
The Lenny and Squiggy characters also appeared on Happy Days and Saturday Night Live.
Hollywood film roles of note for Lander include Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg's 1941 (1979) and the Kurt Russell film Used Cars (1980). He later appeared in A League of Their Own (1992) and Say It Isn't So (2001).
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Voice work ranges from a weasel named Smart Ass in Disney's Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) to such animated TV series as Jungle Cubs, Oswald, Spongebob Squarepants and 101 Dalmatians: The Series. Additional voice roles include the 2009 straight to DVD feature Green Lantern: First Flight and appearances in multiple Garfield cartoons.
Additional TV show gigs include roles in The Bob Newhart Show, Barney Miller, Twin Peaks and Pacific Blue.
A longtime Pittsburgh Pirates fan, Lander worked as a baseball talent scout for the Los Angeles Angels and the Seattle Mariners.
Lander, a spokesperson for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is survived by two fellow actors: his wife Kathy Fields and their daughter, Natalie Lander.