At the age of 89, Martin Landau died on Sunday. He death has hit many in the entertainment community because he had his hand in so many projects, just about everyone who has watch television or gone to a movie has seen Landau in something at some time. Later in his career he had that favorite grandfather feeling, but early on, he spread his wings and played a little bit of everything.
With over 175 acting credits to his name, Landau got his start on the 1953 series The Goldbergs. For years, he played in bit roles in shows like Maverick and Rawhide, but then he took the role of a homosexual henchmen in the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock film, North by Northwest, which shot the young actor to fame and stardom. He continued to guest star on a number of television shows, including I Spy, The Wild Wild West, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., but it was 1966s Mission: Impossible, where he played Rollin Hand, a master of disguise for three years along side his wife, Barbara Bain, who he also stared alongside in Space: 1999. Martin Landau even had a chance to become a member of the Star Trek cast, but turned down the role of Mr. Spock. Of course, that role went to Leonard Nimoy, who, following Star Trek‘s cancellation, replaced Landau on Mission: Impossible when he left the role after 76 episodes.
Landau continued his career of guest staring in TV and movies following his stint on Space: 1999. But in 1988, he was cast in the supporting role of Abe in Francis Ford Coppola’s Tucker: The Man and His Dream. He stared along side Jeff Bridges and Joan Allen. In 1994 he took the role of a lifetime, portraying Bela Lugosi in the Tim Burton biopic, Ed Wood. Landau won his first and only Oscar for his portrayal of Lugosi.
Martin Landau made a guest appearance on The X-Files, helping the David Duchovny character, Mulder in an episode. After more one and done guest roles. he had a reoccurring role in the television series The Evidence, Entourage, and Without a Trace. And as many actors have loved to do, in 2011, Landau lent his voice to the role of The Great Raymondo, the magician mento or Lisa Simpson on an episode of The Simpsons.
At the time of his death, Landau had two movies in pre- and post-production. Expected out this year is Without Ward, where the actor portrays the title character, Ward, and scheduled for 2018, Nate & Al, with Landau taking on the role of Al Kaplan.
This is just scratching the surface of the career Martin Landau has brought to fans over 64 years. Prior to acting, Landau was a former newspaper cartoonist, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Behind the scenes of Hollywood, Landau was an acting teacher who taught Jack Nicholson. He was James Dean’s best friend in the 1950s and before marrying Bain, dated Marilyn Monroe for several months. Landau shared in 1988 that Monroe was a wonderful girl, but she could drive one crazy.
Martin Landau died due to unexpected complications at Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center.
Do you have a favorite role by Landau? Was his Oscar winning portrayal of Bela Lugosi really his best role? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
By Cletus Dillwood
Photo Courtesy Paramount Pictures