David Lander, the actor best known as “Squiggy” on the long-running ABC sitcom Laverne & Shirley, has died. He was 73 and passed Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles from complications related to multiple sclerosis, which he battled for 37 years.
Lander studied acting at the High School for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Tech and New York University.
Teamed with Michael McKean, aka “Lenny” on Laverne & Shirley, Lander created a memorable comic turn on the eight-year run of the series, which ended in 1983. The two had met at Carnegie in Pittsburgh and created the characters there.
Laverne & Shirley was an out-of-the-box smash after premiere in January 1976 on ABC. The lead female characters appeared on briefly on Happy Days — which was created by Garry Marshall — but made enough of an impression to lead their own series. Fronted by Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams, the midcentury-set sitcom about a pair of lower-class workers at Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee would finish as the No. 3 series in all of primetime for the 1975-76 season, far outpacing Happy Days.
The next season, Happy Days was the No. 1 in primetime, followed by Laverne & Shirley at No. 2, but the latter would rule the ranking for the next two seasons, averaging a 31 rating. Lander appeared in all but 22 of the series’ 178 episodes.
Lander and McKean also appeared in Steven Spielberg’s film 1941 and Kurt Russell’s Used Cars. They also voiced an animated TV series Oswald, which ran for two years, playing penguin cousins Henry and Louie.
Lander and McKean also were part of the Credibility Gap, an late-’60s and ’70s comedy troupe that also featured Harry Shearer.
Lander’s survivors in include his wife, Kathy, their daughter, Natalie and her husband.
— Michael McKean (@MJMcKean) December 5, 2020
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