David L. Lander passed away a couple of weeks ago. Name doesn’t ring a bell? How about if I call him “the guy who played ‘Squiggy’ on Laverne & Shirley“? If you’re in my age bracket, that should be all the info you need, because “Lenny” (David’s longtime friend Michael McKean) and “Squiggy” were indelible sitcom characters. They could steal a scene just by entering it:
McKean and Lander met as freshmen in college at Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, which is where they created their Lenny and Squiggy characters. Both later became performers in The Credibility Gap, a group that performed satirical comedy sketches on L.A. radio stations. Here’s a video version of one of The Credibility Gap’s most famous bits, featuring David L. Lander and Harry Shearer:
Long after his “Squiggy” heyday, Lander stayed busy with bit parts and voice acting gigs. Which is even more impressive when you consider the fact that he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1984, just a year after Laverne & Shirley concluded its run. He didn’t announce it publicly until 1999. (His 2002 book was entitled Fall Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn’t Tell Nobody.) He later became an ambassador for M.S.
Oh, and he also worked as a baseball scout for the Anaheim Angels and the Seattle Mariners.
Also worth noting that in Hollywood, where marriages have the life cycle of a fruit fly, David and his wife got married in 1979.
Most of us will remember him as Squiggy — and that character was certainly quite memorable — but there was a lot more to David L. Lander.