He enjoyed a Hollywood career that touched on seven decades and dozens of memorable roles across stage, film, and television. He was a friend of James Dean and Steve McQueen, and while his career began in the 1950s, his most critically acclaimed work came much later on in his life, including an Academy Award.
Martin Landau appeared in more than 60 films, between 1959 and 2015, and had nearly as many television credits. He worked with filmmakers as diverse as Alfred Hitchcock, Tim Burton, Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola and numerous others. And he continued working well into his 80s.
Landau died Sunday in Los Angeles at the age of 89, according to THR and other published reports.
Landau was born in Brooklyn in 1928. He briefly worked as a cartoonist for the New York Daily News before, in the mid-‘50s, he entered the Actors Studio, an institution with which he’d be associated for the remainder of his life. He made his Broadway debut in 1957, and his first movie, two years later, was all-time classic: Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, in which he played a henchman seeking to kill Cary Grant.
Landau had steady film work throughout the ‘60s, before taking his first prominent TV role, in the original version of Mission: Impossible. He would appear in virtually every major ’60s TV series, from Bonanza to The Outer Limits to The Twilight Zone to Get Smart. The following decade he was a regular on the TV series Space: 1999. He was alleged to have turned down the role of Mr. Spock in the original Star Trek.
But it wasn’t until the 1980s that Landau would achieve his work of highest acclaim. He was nominated for various awards for Coppola’s Tucker: The Man and His Dream in 1988, as well as for his part as a conflicted surgeon in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors. He would finally win his first Oscar for Tim Burton’s 1994 Ed Wood, in which he played the fading Hollywood legend Bela Lugosi. Through it all, he was also an acclaimed acting coach, and remained the Actor’s Studio’s executive director until the end of his life.
Landau’s later roles included the first X-Files movie in 1998, a recurring role as a Robert Evans-like producer on Entourage, and as Anna Nicole Smith’s elderly husband, J. Howard Marshall III, in a 2013 Lifetime TV movie. His final role was Atom Egoyan’s 2015 drama Remember.
R.I.P Martin Landau: June 20, 1928- July 15, 2017
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