Veteran and versatile character actor Martin Landau passed away at the weekend. He was 89…
Depending on your age, Martin Landau was probably familiar to you for very different roles.
An accomplished stage actor, he furthered his early career by winning a place at the famed Actors Studio and told the tale that only two actors were admitted into the prestigious honour in 1955: he and Steve McQueen. In the years that followed, Landau became close friends with James Dean, dated Marilyn Monroe and taught Jack Nicholson.
In the 1950s and 1960s he won interesting supporting roles in a number of memorable features, including Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, Cleopatra and The Greatest Story Ever Told. He then made a name for himself on television with the the original incarnation of the American action show Mission Impossible, playing Rollin Hand, the master-of-disguise. He appeared in the CBS drama from its first series in 1966 through to 1969. He and his then wife Barbara Bain left the show after a contract dispute but the couple worked together again on Gerry Anderson’s Space:1999, the ITC series which ran from 1975 to 1977 (and which is still considered a major landmark in British science-fiction).featured the lunar survivors of an explosion that altered the Moon’s orbit and sends it travelling through space.
During the 1980s Landau began to appear in more feature film, his versatlity allowing him to essay several acclaimed character roles. He featured in Francis Ford Coppola’s Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988) for which he received an Academy Award nomination. The following year he was nominated again, this time for Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors. In 1994 he had a memorable turn as an aged Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood – it was a performance which finally won him his Oscar and a Golden Globe as well as a host of other awards. He also received good reviews for his role as Geppetto in a 1996 live-action film version of The Adventures of Pinocchio.
In more recent years he took on smaller roles that interested him, including episodes of Without a Trace for which he was twice nominated for an Emmy nominations, and Entourage for which he won one.
He is survived by Bain and his two daughters, Susie Landau Finch and Juliet Landau, the latter being most famous for her role as Drusilla in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.