Lander was born David Landau in Brooklyn, New York to schoolteacher parents. He is best known for his portrayal of Andrew "Squiggy" Squiggman on the situation comedy Laverne and Shirley from 1976 to 1982, with sitcom sidekick Lenny (Michael McKean).
Lander's partnership with McKean began during their acting classes at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh where they developed the characters of Lenny and Squiggy. After Pittsburgh they teamed up in the Los Angeles-based comedy ensemble The Credibility Gap. The duo released an album as Lenny and the Squigtones in 1980 featuring Christopher Guest on guitar, credited as Nigel Tufnel, a name Guest would later reuse in the spoof rock band Spinal Tap. Lander and McKean also appeared together in the 1979 Steven Spielberg comedy 1941, and the 1980 Kurt Russell film Used Cars.
Lander has also appeared in numerous other TV shows and movies including The Bob Newhart Show, Barney Miller, Happy Days, Married... with Children, Twin Peaks, The Weird Al Show, Mad About You, and The Drew Carey Show. His film roles were more sparse but still memorable; these included the part of a minor league baseball radio announcer in the film, A League of Their Own and a bit part of the minister officiating the marriage ceremony in Say It Isn't So. Lander created the starring role of the demented fast food franchise clown Bruce Burger in the cult film Funland directed by Michael A. Simpson.
Lander also has experience as a voice actor, with a resume dating back to 1969 where he "dramatically reproduced" Elvis Presley quotations for the Pop Chronicles music documentary and 1970 when he was the voice of Jerry Lewis in the Filmation series Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down. Later voice roles included The Big Bang, A Bug's Life, Oswald, Tom and Jerry: The Movie and the animated TV series Galaxy High as the six-armed Milo de Venus. He also reprised his role as Squiggy in the animated sitcom, The Simpsons. Lander also provided the voice of Smartass, the head weasel of Judge Doom’s Toon Patrol in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. His latest voice role is that of Ch'p in the DC Comics animated movie, Green Lantern: First Flight.
Lander suffers from multiple sclerosis. Officially diagnosed on 15 May 1984 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, he went public in 1999 and regularly speaks at related conventions. In 2002, his autobiography was published, Fall Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn't Tell Nobody (ISBN 1-58542-052-2), written with Lee Montgomery.
In addition to acting, Lander, a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, has a small stake in the Portland Beavers. He has worked as a baseball talent scout since 1997, first for the Anaheim Angels, and now for the Seattle Mariners.
Lander was married 10 March 1979. He currently lives in Thousand Oaks, California. He has a daughter, Natalie Lander, who was on MTV's show, Legally Blonde The Musical: The Search for Elle Woods.
- "David L. Lander Biography (1947-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- "Show 7 - The All American Boy: Enter Elvis and the rock-a-billies. [Part 1] : UNT Digital Library". Digital.library.unt.edu. 2010-08-26. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- David Lander at the Internet Movie Database
- Lenny & The Squigtones at allmusic
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society