Lander died Friday in Los Angeles, surrounded by his wife, daughter and son-in-law, Kathy Fields Lander, his wife, said in an email Saturday to the Associated Press.
“It was very peaceful,” Lander said. “He had a tough battle with MS for 37 years and he persevered like no one I have ever seen, and it taught me a great deal about the important things of life.”
Lander revealed his MS diagnosis publicly in his 1999 book, “Fall Down, Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn’t Tell Nobody.”
He was first diagnosed in 1984.
“Whatever happens, MS can’t take it all. I will always have my heart and soul, my wit and wisdom,” Lander said back in 2007. “Wherever the chips may fall, if I fall with them I will make it a point to do so gracefully — and laughing.”
Lander had a longtime comedic partnership with Michael McKean, whom he met at Carnegie Mellon University. Together they created the characters of Lenny and Squiggy that they would play on the show, which ran from 1976 to 1983. Lenny and Squiggy — or Lenny Kosnowski and Andrew “Squiggy” Squiggman — were friends and upstairs neighbors of Laverne DeFazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams), bottle-cappers in 1950s Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
McKean tweeted a photo in tribute to Lander on Saturday of the two actors in the early days.
Lander is survived by his wife and a daughter, Natalie Lander.
Lander also had roles on a variety of other TV series, such as "The Bold and the Beautiful," "The Love Boat" and "Pacific Blue."
He had parts in movies as well, including Steven Spielberg’s "1941" and Kurt Russell’s “Used Cars.”
He is survived by his wife and a daughter, Natalie Lander.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.