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Meet David Lander!

David Lander Famous People with MS

I, and probably most others, remember David Lander as “Squiggy” on the show Laverne and Shirley. He was the other half of the Lenny and Squiggy team on the popular sitcom back in the 70's and early 80's. I couldn't wait to see the funny antics of Andrew Squiggman and Lenny his sidekick.

David Lander's early years

He was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 22, 1947 to parents who were schoolteachers. They named their youngest son David Leonard Landau. When he was 10 years old, he decided he would be an actor. He was 4 when he began attending the High School of Performing Arts in New York City.

He also studied at Carnegie Tech and NYU during his college years. To further his acting career, he moved to Hollywood. There he found a job writing for a variety TV show called Romp! He ended up being discovered by a radio producer while working at a telephone answering service. The producer liked the way he did voice imitations.

From radio to tv

After an on-the-air radio audition with The Credibility Gap, he landed another job which would eventually lead him to TV. It was a comedic satire based on current news. This was the show on which the characters Lenny and Squiggy were first performed by David Lander and Micheal McKean. Penny Marshall was in the live audience during one of the shows and asked them to perform at her party. Her brother, Garry Marshall, saw the act and asked them to perform on his sister's new show, Laverne and Shirley.

Fall Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn't Tell Nobody Hardcover – September 11, 2000

The show started in 1976 and ran for seven year's through 1983. Lenny and Squiggy were in more than 200 of those episodes. From there, David's acting career continued on and he appeared in many of the TV shows of the day, likeThe Simpsons, The Nanny, Family Matters, Dream On, Saturday Night Live, Matlock, Head of the Class, Highway to Heaven, Father Dowling, Simon and Simon, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Married with Children, and L.A. Heat He's also been in movies, done voice-overs for radio, TV, and on animated series, like the popular kids shows. One of these was Oswald, where he was the voice of “Henry the Penguin” from 2001 till 2004, and another, 101 Dalmations.

Besides his acting career, David Lander was also a musician. The band, “Lenny and the Squigtones”, was a fictional musical group on the series. They released an album - Lenny and Squiggy Present Lenny and the Squigtones in 1980 on the Casablanca label. It was performed live in front of an audience. They only made the one album; it is now a collectors item.

David is also a baseball fan and is part owner of the Portland Beavers. His favorite team is the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has also worked since 1997 as a baseball talent scout for the Anaheim Angels and now for the Seattle Mariners.

He now lives in Thousand Oaks, California with his wife Kathy Fields. They were married on March 10, 1979. Their daughter, Natalie, is following in her fathers footsteps as an actress and voice actress.

You can find out more about his acting life here on IMDb, (link opens a new window).

About his MS

David was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1984, Fall Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn't Tell Nobody is his book about, you guessed it, MS. It shows how he hid his disease from the public for 15 years till 1999 when he revealed it to the press. 

David Lander - spokesperson

David Lander is now a spokesperson for the National MS Society (NMSS) and an advocate for those with MS. In the year 2000, he was named Ambassador of the Year by the NMSS for his “mission to promote the early intervention of treatment for people newly diagnosed with MS”.

Before he knew what he had, he described his MS symptoms like this in his book - Fall Down Laughing":

Fall Down Laughing David Lander

"What’s wrong with these legs? Why won’t they work? Like everyone with MS, there were clues that something was wrong with me but nothing added up as remarkable. Symptoms appeared and disappeared as if by magic; slowly, little by little, inch by inch. I would step in holes that were not there, trip on cracks in the sidewalk, or watch a drink slip through my hands twice in one night without feeling it leave my fingertips.

    It seemed like my body was out of sync, like a badly dubbed Hercules picture. I could no longer trust it to follow the simplest instructions. On some days, crossing streets and climbing curbs became a challenge. On other days I would be okay. I knew something wasn't right, I just didn't know what it was called, if it was serious, or if it would ever go away.

    On the days my body didn't listen, I told myself it was just one of those days, I didn't know what "one of those days" meant; nothing hurt, my body just wasn't working like it should. Then, without warning, I'd feel normal again. It was like living on a fault line. I knew a quake was coming, but I didn't know when it would erupt or how big the quake would be."

Check out the link to a video of an interview with him below. There are also many videos on YouTube where you can get a glimpse of the show, Laverne and Shirley.

Go to the Famous People with MS A-B 

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Cir & Akrista

You are reading original content written by Akrista or Cir L'Bert of Life in Spite of MS. If you enjoyed reading this blog, please consider following us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. See you there!

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