David L. Lander, who played Andrew “Squiggy” Squiggman for all eight seasons of the 1970s ABC sitcom “Laverne & Shirley,” has died. He was 73.
Lander’s wife Kathy Fields, told TMZ he died Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles from complications due to multiple sclerosis. The actor was diagnosed with the condition in May 1984 but kept it a secret for 15 years.
Lander and his “Laverne & Shirley” sidekick Michael McKean were originally hired as writers for the show in 1976. The duo met as freshmen at Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh and did a raunchy comedy act known as Lenny & Anthony. They ended up getting added to the cast for the first show and were soon made part of the cast.
Penny Marshall, who starred as Laverne DeFazio, died in 2018. She and Cindy Williams, who starred as Shirley Feeney, were roommates who worked at a Milwaukee brewery in the late 1950s.
Lenny, as portrayed by McKean, and Squiggy, were knuckleheaded greasers who drove trucks for the brewery and lived in the apartment upstairs.
“We have lost a great comedy genius, David Lander. But thankfully, the man that made millions of people laugh out loud still remains in the amazing performances he has left us. What a blessing.. what an absolute blast it was to work with you over the years, my darling friend,” Williams wrote on Instagram
McKean, who posted a photo of the two with no comment on Twitter Saturday afternoon, also teamed up with Lander for a 1979 record “Lenny and the Squigtones,” and in Robert Zemeckis’ 1980 film “Used Cars.”
Lander also provided the voice of Jerry Lewis on a 1970 Saturday morning cartoon, portrayed taxidermist Tim Pinkle on ABC’s “Twin Peaks” — he was cast by his Hollywood Hills neighbor, David Lynch, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The younger of two sons, David Leonard Landau was born and raised in the Bronx. His parents, Sol and Stella, were teachers. He graduated from the High School of the Performing Arts in Manhattan. After a short stint at Carnegie Tech, he attended NYU before moving to Hollywood in 1968.
Lander was the voice of Jerry Lewis for a 1970 ABC cartoon “Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down,” and made guest appearances on a number of sitcoms before reuniting with McKean in a comedy troupe called The Credibility Gap. They were hired as writers for “Laverne & Shirley” along with another member of the troupe, Harry Shearer.
Lander also appeared in Steven Spielberg’s “1941,” voiced the character of Smart Ass in Zemeckis’ “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” played a baseball announcer Marshall’s “A League of Their Own” and Principal Squiggy in Keenen Ivory Wayans’ “Scary Movie.”
Known as a baseball man, Lander owned a piece of the Portland Beavers, a onetime Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor-league affiliate, and scouted for the Seattle Mariners and Anaheim Angels.
In 2000, he revealed his illness in a book, “Fall Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn’t Tell Nobody.”
Survivors, in addition to his wife Fields, whom he married in 1979, include daughter Natalie Lander, an actress.