Laverne & Shirley Actor David Lander Dies at 73December 28, 2020
David Lander, the actor and comedian best known for playing Andrew “Squiggy” Squiggman on the sitcom Laverne & Shirley, died last week at the age of 73. Lander passed away at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles from complications from multiple sclerosis, a condition which he was first diagnosed with in 1984. In a statement released by the family, the late actor’s loved ones say they hope the world remembers Lander for his performances and how he made people laugh.
Lander rose to fame playing Squiggy opposite his longtime friend and collaborator Michael McKean, who played Lenny in the series. While Laverne & Shirley made Squiggy and Lenny household names, the characters predate the show by several years. Lander and McKean developed the duo when they were students at Carnegie Tech, which is now known as Carnegie Mellon University. Speaking on the passing of his oldest friend, McKean said that although Lander’s body slowly deteriorated, his wit and humor remained until the very end. Lander’s wife Kathy celebrated her husband by saying how much he loved his family. The actor’s wife of 41 years further said that her usually private husband enjoyed simple pleasures, such as watching movies and baseball games with his loved ones.
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1947, Lander showed an interest in acting from a young age. After graduating from Carnegie Tech with a degree in theater, Lander traveled to Hollywood, where he and McKean joined a comedy group called The Credibility Gap. Lander and McKean’s performances with The Credibility Gap attracted the attention of television producers, who immediately cast them in Laverne & Shirley. Throughout his career, Lander eventually appeared in 120 television and film productions. Besides Laverne & Shirley and its sister show, Happy Days, Lander appeared in projects as diverse as Scary Movie and Pacific Blue. Lander also provided voicework for a number of animated projects, notably 101 Dalmatians: The Series and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Lander faced his biggest test in his multiple sclerosis diagnosis. The actor kept his condition a secret until 1999, fearing that it would prevent him from securing new roles. Lander revealed the full extent of his struggle to fans in the memoir Fall Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn’t Tell Nobody. Since then, Lander used his celebrity to speak out on behalf of patients with multiple sclerosis and raise money for charities that fight the disease. Through his speaking tours at conventions and galas, Lander was named a goodwill ambassador by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In several interviews on his fight with multiple sclerosis, Lander said that he would never let the disease conquer his humor and positivity. Lander’s daughter Natalie later said that her father’s positivity and optimism are an inspiration for her, concluding that his perseverance taught her a great deal about courage.