Sunday,September 17,2000 NY Post
By MARIA ALVAREZ
"Laverne and Shirley" funnyman David "Squiggy" Lander, who's written a book about his 20-year battle with multiple sclerosis, gave a pep talk to fellow sufferers yesterday, telling them, "You can do something and be empowered." "Listen, my good days are better then they were, and my bad days aren't so bad," Lander told an audience of MS patients at New York Presbyterian Hospital. "Take the drugs, exercise. Don't assume that you can't."
Putting a light-hearted spin on the crippling disease, the 51-year-old actor made his audience howl when he told them how his doctor broke the news.
"The doctor said: 'The good news is you don't have cancer - you have MS,' " he said to appreciative laughter.
"So I'm supposed to be happy?" he said, giving his famous Squiggy smirk. "He's telling me that I won't die in two years, but that I may never walk again."
Lander gave his audience a taste of his book, "Fall Down, Laughing," which talks about how the nervous-system illness almost debilitated him physically and mentally because he kept it secret for 20 years.
"Who was going to give a job to a 36-year-old Jew in a wheelchair?" asked Lander, who preferred to have Hollywood bigwigs believe he was drunk rather than let them know he had MS.
Lander said he even disguised his limp with comedy antics - and told lies.
"I would tell people I had gout or lumbago," he said. "I didn't even know what gout or lumbago was. I even told people I was an alcoholic. That's how low I stooped."
Lander said despite his MS he continues to work, and found a new venue for his acting: the theater.
"Look at me as an example of what I did for myself," he said. "Remember,
we're all in this together. We're not alone."