Martin Landau, character actor, dies at 89

Posted July 17, 2017

With a career spanning six decades and industry accolades including an Academy Award and a trio of Golden Globes behind him, Hollywood veteran actor Martin Landau passed away on Saturday at the age of 89.

Actor Martin Landau, who won an Oscar for his poignant portrayal of an ageing horror film star in Ed Wood, has died.

After a brief but impressive Broadway career, Landau had made an auspicious film debut in the late 1950s, playing a soldier in "Pork Chop Hill" and a villain in the Alfred Hitchcock classic "North By Northwest".

It was his role as the haunting Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's biopic, Ed Wood, that finally scored him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1994.

He was Emmy-nominated five times, and most of his leading man roles came on television, most notably as Rollin Hand, a master of disguise on "Mission: Impossible". (He also voiced the role of radio newsman Walter Winchell.) The movie earned Landau his first of three Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor.

In a 2016 interview with The Washington Times, Landau explained what he thought of acting in the 21st century.

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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. Leonard Nimoy took on the role and then replaced Landau on his TV spy drama Mission: Impossible. In fact, Landau beefed up the role from the way Ernest Lehman wrote it.

Following his departure from CBS' Mission: Impossible show in 1969, Landau found his acting footing again when he played Abe Karatz in Francis Ford Coppola's 1988 film Tucker: The Man and His Dream.

"Ed Wood", starring Martin Landau and Johnny Depp. More recently, the actor had recurring roles on TV shows like Entourage and Without a Trace.

Landau was born in Brooklyn in 1928 and gave up his job as a New York Daily News cartoonist to become an actor in his early 20s. It brought him an Oscar nomination for the second year in a row. He was married to co-star Bain from 1957 until their divorce in 1993.

Martin Landau at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival.

He is survived by his daughters Susie Landau Finch and Juliet Landau, and a granddaughter.