David Lander, who for eight seasons co-starred as Squiggy on the hit comedy Laverne & Shirley, died Friday evening according to reports. The actor had been battling multiple sclerosis for nearly 40 years, and died from complications related to the disease. He was 73.
Born David Landau in Brooklyn, New York, he attended the legendary High School of the Performing Arts (e.g. the high school from the musical Fame) and later Carnegie Mellon University. It was there he met his longtime comedy partner Michael McKean. The pair then left for Los Angeles and joined the comedy troupe The Credibility Gap. (Harry Shearer was also a member of the group, and Albert Brooks was in their orbit.)
It was here that Landau and McKean created the characters of Lenny and Squiggy, which would soon become household names during the late 1970s into the 1980s. Leonard Kosnowski and Andrew Squiggman were the two wacky upstairs neighbors to Laverne DeFazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams). They were amped-up versions of ’50s greasers (this was a spin-off of Happy Days) who would barge into the scene when you least expected it (with Squiggy shouting “Hello!” in a voice that was, and still is, alluring to imitate.) A recurring bit was watching them fall apart if an attractive woman was near. (Lenny would bite his own hand.)
In 1979, the two released the novelty album as Lenny and the Squigtones. Christopher Guest appeared on the album as Nigel Tufnel, the character that would later evolve into the co-founder of Spinal Tap.
Landau and McKean were cast together in the Steven Spielberg comedy 1941, and in Robert Zemeckis‘s Used Cars. Lander also appeared in ’80s comedies Wholly Moses! and The Man With One Red Shoe, and on episodes of The Love Boat, Barney Miller, and Rhoda. He also turned up as a Ferengi in a season two episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and as the taxidermist-choreographer Tim Pinkle on Twin Peaks.
Lander also did voice work for films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and a slew of television shows like Johnny Bravo, Superman: The Animated Series, and SpongeBob SquarePants.
He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1984 and served as an ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
When news broke of Lander’s passing, his former partner McKean simply uploaded an image of the two of them from their early years.
Speaking to Variety, Harry Shearer said “you could throw a ball into the air, and David could hit it for a mile in terms of a punchline.”
Many fans took to social media to remember Lander, including Adam Sandler, who simply wrote RIP.
Mark Hamill wrote of his admiration of Lander directly to McKean.
Awful news. He will be sorely missed. I'll never forget how I nearly injured myself laughing when I first saw you guys in The Credibility Gap. Then came Lenny & Squiggy & the laughs just kept coming. I'll always be grateful for that. #RIPDavidLander https://t.co/fq6CACT8YY
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) December 5, 2020
And now, straight from your hazy memories, a montage of Squiggy saying “Hello!”
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