David L. Lander, the diminutive actor known for his portrayal of goofy greaser Squiggy on Laverne & Shirley, has died at 73, TMZ reports.
Lander died Friday, December 4, from multiple sclerosis complications, having battled the disease for nearly 40 years, his wife confirmed.
Lander was born June 22, 1947, in Brooklyn. He acted from age 10, later studying at the High School for the Performing Arts.
He also attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he befriended fellow comic actor Michael McKean for life. With McKean, he developed Lenny and Squiggy, the same on-the-make characters later introduced to a national audience on Laverne & Shirley (1976-1982).
Along with the iconic sitcom, the duo acted together in the L.A. ensemble the Credibility Gap, the Steven Spielberg (b. 1946) movie 1941 (1979), and the comedy Used Cars (1980). They later provided voices for the animated TV show Oswald (2001-2003).
Over the years, Lander made guest appearances on such shows as Love, American Style (1972), The Bob Newhart Show (1974), Rhoda (1975), Barney Miller (1975), Happy Days (1979), Highway to Heaven (1985), Married... with Children (1989), Twin Peaks (1990-1991), Family Matters (1995), and The Nanny (1995).
His voice work was included in the movies Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), A League of Their Own (1992), and Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001), and on the series The Tick (1996), Jungle Cubs (1996-1998), and The Garfield Show (2009-2012), among many others.
Lander, who was diagnosed with MS in 1984 but did not speak publicly about the disease for 15 years, published the 2002 memoir Fall Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn't Tell Nobody. He was a longtime goodwill ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Lander is survived by his actress wife of more than 40 years, Kathy Fields, and their actress daughter Natalie Lander (b. 1983). Fields is the daughter of the late agent Freddie Fields (1923-2007) and the late former child star Edith Fellows (1923-2011); her stepmother was Polly Bergen (1930-2014).