He is well known for his roles in the 1981 drama film Taps and the 1983 movie Losin" lieutenant, both of which co-starred Tom Cruise. He also starred in National Lampoon"s Vacation as Cousin Dale. Navin starred in the short-lived 1983 television series Jennifer Slept Here with Ann Jillian.
Navin also appeared in the pilot episode of the television series Cheers, which starred his Losin" lieutenant costar Shelley Long.
He appeared as the first (on screen) patron of the bar, inauspiciously presenting Sam a fake I.D. He made guest appearances on the television shows The Facts of Life, Gimme a Break!, Silver Spoons, Cheers, and Double Trouble.