David Lander, who found fame playing Squiggy in Laverne and Shirley, died at the age of 73 as a result of a long battle with multiple sclerosis, his family said in a statement.

He gained acclaim for his double act with Michael McKean, who played Lenny in the Happy Days offshoot, where they had a band called Lenny and the Squigtones. While McKean went on to portray David St. Hubbins in This Is Spinal Tap, the pair worked together on a number of occasions, including the penguins Henry and Louie in the animated show Oswald. In 1979 the duo had released a Squigtones album, which also featured Christopher Guest on guitar, using the Spinal Tap name Nigel Tufnel for the first time.

Lander was diagnosed with M.S. a year after Laverne and Shirley ended in 1983 – after having undergone a spinal tap procedure – but he didn’t make his illness public until 1999. He spent his later years acting as an advocate to raise awareness of the condition. In 2007 he said: “Acting is all about confidence and having M.S. can mean losing your confidence.” He added: “Whatever happens, M.S. can't take it all. I will always have my heart and soul, my wit and wisdom. Wherever the chips may fall, if I fall with them I will make it a point to do so gracefully – and laughing.”

McKean paid a silent tribute by posting a picture of the duo on Twitter. Spinal Tap director Rob Reiner retweeted it and wrote: “David and I met when we were both 19. He and Michael KcKean auditioned for Lenny and Sguiggy by just improvising in front of [Happy Days showrunner] Garry Marshall at a party at Penny and my house. He was brilliant then and forever after. He will be missed.”

Lenny and the Squigtones on ‘Laverne and Shirley’

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In Memoriam: 2020 Deaths