David Lander, the comic actor best known for playing “Squiggy” on Laverne & Shirley, has died at the age of 73 following a decades-long battle with multiple sclerosis.
The actor’s family confirmed to Variety that Lander died Friday evening at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with his wife Kathy by his side.
From 1976 to 1983, over the stretch of over 150 episodes, Lander played the role of Andrew “Squiggy” Squiggman on Laverne & Shirley, opposite actor Michael McKean’s Lenny; the two actors began collaborating together when they were both students at Carnegie Mellon University, and developed those roles prior to arriving in Los Angeles.
Following news of Lander’s death, McKean shared a photo of his longtime comedy partner on Twitter:
— Michael McKean (@MJMcKean) December 5, 2020
Lander and McKean also appeared on the big screen together in both Steven Spielberg’s 1979 war comedy 1941 and Robert Zemeckis’ 1980 film Used Cars.
Midway through Laverne & Shirley’s run, McKean and Lander released a one-off album under the moniker Lenny and the Squigtones in 1979. Fellow collaborator Christopher Guest, under the name Nigel Tufnel, is credited with guitar work on that LP; Guest would later revisit that character alongside McKean’s David St. Hubbins in Spinal Tap.
Over the course of a career that spanned five decades, Lander also appeared in films like A League of Their Own, 2000’s Scary Movie (playing Principal Squiggman) and the role of Tim Pinkle on the second season of the original Twin Peaks series; Lander later appeared in David Lynch’s short-lived On the Air series.
Lander’s unmistakeable voice also led to dozens of voice acting roles, including the rat “Smart Ass” in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the Nickelodeon series Oswald (again alongside McKean), the Eighties animated series Galaxy High and a guest spot on a 2002 episode of The Simpsons, where he reprised the role of “Squiggy.”
In 1999, Lander revealed he had been battling multiple sclerosis for over a decade. However, the actor remained active until recent years, last providing voices to episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants and Goldie and Bear.