February 22, 2018

Actor Martin Landau, star of 'Mission: Impossible,' dies at 89

18 July 2017, 12:38 | Cassandra Thompson

Dead at 89

Martin Landau, Oscar Winner for 'Ed Wood,' Dies at 89

Martin Landau, a versatile character actor and Oscar victor whose career in film and television spanned more than half a century, died on Sunday, July 16, after "unexpected complications" during a hospital stay, according to his publicist.

In 1994, he played the dying, once-famous screen ghoul Bela Lugosi, in Tim Burton's "Ed Wood". It remained on the air until 1973, but Landau and Bain left at the end of the show's third season amid a financial dispute with the producers. Landau won the supporting actor Oscar. He was married for 36 years to his "Mission: Impossible" castmate Barbara Bain. But after a highly successful three-year run as master-of-disguise Rollin Hand on TV's Mission: Impossible, the actor who'd crafted his art alongside James Dean and mentored Jack Nicholson discovered the movie business had lost interest in him.

He received another best supporting actor Oscar nomination for Woody Allen's 1989 morality fable "Crimes and Misdemeanors" in which he played murderous ophthalmologist Judah Rosenthal.

He first played a soldier in Pork Chop Hill and then a villain in the Alfred Hitchcock classic North By Northwest.

Normality for Landau meant he never became a Hollywood A-lister, but he saw a benefit in not being a highly sought-after actor. Over his seven decade career, Landau appeared in hundreds of projects.

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The actor spent five years as a newspaper cartoonist in his native NY before deciding to focus on acting; As Landau often stated, he and Steve McQueen were notably the only two applicants accepted into the Actors Studio in 1955. Most recently he appeared in "The Last Poker Game" with Paul Sorvino, which screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, and in "Remember" for director Atom Egoyan.

Landau, who was born in NY, also starred in the British series Space: 1999 alongside his then wife, Barbara Bain. A gifted mimic trained in method acting, Landau had thoroughly researched the role.

During the 1960s, he had character roles in "The Greatest Story Ever Told", "Nevada Smith" and "The Hallelujah Trail". He was also in Hitchcock's North by Northwest as Leonard.

"I think if they don't like what I'm doing, they'll say something", he told the Los Angeles Times.

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