David Lander, best known for his role as Squiggy in American sitcom Laverne & Shirley, has died aged 73.
His death was confirmed to Variety by his family, who said the actor died on Friday night (December 4) at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Lander’s cause of death was due to complications related to multiple sclerosis, which he had been battling for 37 years. He went public with his diagnosis in 1999, after which he worked closely with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, speaking at a number of related conferences.
The actor will be remembered most for starring as Squiggy in Laverne & Shirley, opposite longtime friend Michael McKean, who portrayed Lenny in the sitcom. The pair developed the characters while they were students at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Reacting to the news of Lander’s death, McKean took to Twitter on Saturday (December 5) to share an old photo of the pair together.
— Michael McKean (@MJMcKean) December 5, 2020
David Leonard Landau was born on June 22, 1947 in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up, he always knew he wanted to be an actor, attending the High School for the Performing Arts. After teaming up with McKean in college, the duo moved to Los Angeles, where they joined the comedy ensemble, The Credibility Gap.
Building an early career alongside McKean, Lander starred in Steven Spielberg’s comedy film 1941 (1979) and Kurt Russell’s Used Cars (1980). The pair later voiced animated TV series Oswald, in which they played penguins Henry and Louie, respectively.
In addition to Laverne & Shirley, some of Lander’s most memorable TV roles include The Bob Newhart Show, Happy Days, Twin Peaks and The Drew Carey Show. He also had small parts in movies like A League of Their Own and Say It Isn’t So.
As a voice actor, Lander was the voice behind Smart Ass in the 1988 Disney movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He also lent his voice talents to the animated movies The Iron Giant, A Bug’s Life, Tom And Jerry: The Movie, SpongeBob SquarePants, and 2009’s Green Lantern: First Fight.
Lander most recently voiced Rumpelstiltskin in Disney’s children’s show Goldie & Bear in 2017.
Together with McKean, Lander also released an album in 1979 under the moniker Lenny and the Squigtones. Released via the Casablanca Records, the 15-track project heard the pair perform parodies of 50s rock ballads.
The album is noted for featuring Christopher Guest on guitar, who was credited as Nigel Tufnel – an alias that he later reused in the fictional band Spinal Tap. The band also included “Murph”, the keyboard player from The Blues Brothers, and Don Poncher as “Ming the Merciless”.
A number of tributes for the actor have poured in on social media – see them below.
My childhood was filled with the best memories of Lenny, Squiggy, Laverne (rip), Shirl, and “The Big Ragu” Carmine Raguzza.
Rest In Peace, David Lander.💔 https://t.co/qpuWK5cvKu
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) December 5, 2020
Actor David Lander, best known as Squiggy from “Laverne & Shirley,” died Friday. He was 73.
Lander died of multiple sclerosis, which he battled for 37 years. Since he went public with his diagnosis in 1999, Lander spoke to his experience at related conventions. pic.twitter.com/iJzWAzkvEc
— Leyna Nguyen (@LeynaNguyenTV) December 5, 2020
I can’t even describe how important Laverne & Shirley was to me growing up. Their unlikely friendship with Lenny & Squiggy was aspirational for me! David Lander will always be one of my favorites forever. Lots of love to everyone who loved him. 💜 https://t.co/R3jeqOyAuP
— Caissie (@Caissie) December 5, 2020
RIP David Lander – I met him in 2012, I told him that I had to download a bootleg of "Lenny & The Squigtones" because it wasn't available, he understood but I could tell that he was bummed that it wasn't in print…. so I gave him 5 bucks. He laughed and I felt better. RIP =( pic.twitter.com/m9v7yBQcOO
— Eric Keyes (@monkeyes) December 5, 2020
Behold, the comedic genius of David Lander. He and Michael McKean were beloved, quoted, and imitated a lot in the Lynch household. If you can't watch the whole thing, fast forward to Lenny and Squiggy on The Dating Game. https://t.co/fOqOyS8YOq
— Brian Lynch (@BrianLynch) December 5, 2020
Knowing that David Lander lived with multiple sclerosis made it easier for those of us wanting to be open and honest about being diagnosed too. He put a brave face on living with the illness paving the way for the rest of us. Prayers and love to his family. 💔 RIP https://t.co/eCEiS02wMd
— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) December 5, 2020
When I was young I met #DavidLander in Georgetown, filming "The Man with One Red Shoe" (I think), and he was so kind and lovely and hilarious and I was truly star-struck. A real gentleman and an inspiration.
— Thomas Lennon (@thomaslennon) December 6, 2020
We are deeply saddened by the news of David Lander passing. He played the PA announcer in A League of Their Own, setting the stage for the action. Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones. pic.twitter.com/1g8uCwKOlB
— GeenaDavisInstitute (@GDIGM) December 6, 2020
So sorry to learn of #DavidLander's death. He was #Squiggy on Laverne & Shirley in the 70's. In 1999, shortly after he revealed he had #MS, he was guest speaker at @MSupstateNY Dinner of Champions in #Buffalo. A joy to work with him as I emceed that event. #RIPDavidLander pic.twitter.com/A5aVrg1nad
— Jacquie Walker (@jacquiewalker4) December 6, 2020
David Lander, who played “Squiggy” on 'Laverne & Shirley,' has died at the age of 73.
He also worked as the Goodwill Ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
He ALSO was a baseball talent scout for the Anaheim Angels and Seattle Mariners.
What an amazing life. pic.twitter.com/zmiZNu1Bco
— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) December 5, 2020
[P] A heartbreaking loss. RIP, David Lander. https://t.co/h2ScPkycpu
— Paul and Storm (@paulandstorm) December 6, 2020
RIP David Lander. Still greater than Kramer in the sitcom entrance category.
— J. Elvis Weinstein (@JElvisWeinstein) December 5, 2020
— Jake Fogelnest (@jakefogelnest) December 5, 2020
God bless David Lander for showing the world that people with MS can work and for raising awareness that no doubt led to the meds that people like me are on today #DavidLander
— Brian Scolaro (@BRIAN_SCOLARO) December 6, 2020