Comic Actor Who Hid His Diagnosis Is Dead at 73

David Lander played the beloved role of Squiggy on 'Laverne & Shirley'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2020 5:00 PM CST

Lovers of classic TV know him as Squiggy, the greasy-haired neighbor who made America laugh. Now David Lander's family says the comic actor died Friday in Los Angeles from complications of multiple sclerosis, TMZ reports. He was 73. Committed to acting by age 10, Lander teamed up with Michael McKean when they studied at Carnegie Mellon University, forging a duo that soared as Lenny and Squiggy on Laverne & Shirley from 1976 to 1983. "Squiggy is a combination of people I knew and despised. You have more freedom playing people you hate," Lander told People in 1978. "There are people like them who haven't outgrown their silly dreams." In 2009 he called Squiggy "the dumb guy who sees himself as a genius."

Lander and McKean built on their success by recording the 1979 album Lenny and the Squigtones and putting out a line of Lenny and Squiggy dolls, per the Hollywood Reporter. Lander also popped up in Steven Spielberg's 1941 (1979), voice-acted in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), appeared as a baseball announcer in A League of Their Own (1992), and played a high-school principal in Scary Movie (2000). On TV, he had a stint on The Bold and the Beautiful and appeared on shows including Barney Miller, Happy Days, and Twin Peaks, per Variety. He kept his 1984 diagnosis of MS hidden until revealing it in a memoir in 2000. "I just felt they wouldn't hire me if they knew I had MS," he said. Lander is survived by his wife Kathy and their daughter Natalie, who were by his hospital bed when he died. (Read more obituary stories.)

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