Martin Landau, star of “Ed Wood,” “North by Northwest” and the ’60s TV series “Mission: Impossible,” died Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 89.
Landau won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work as the film legend Bela Lugosi in the Tim Burton-directed, Johnny Depp-starring biopic “Ed Wood” and also received nomination for Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “Tucker: The Man and His Dream.”
Before Landau was bit by the acting bug, he was a young cartoonist for The New York Daily News, where he spent nearly five years as an editorial artist. But by the time he hit 22, he decided that a life in theater is where he wanted to be.
As a student at The Actors Studio, he worked alongside another handsome talent who’d later become a star, James Dean. What followed were small roles in epic films of the 1960’s, like “Cleopatra” (with Elizabeth Taylor) and “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” the retelling of the story of Jesus from nativity to resurrection.
Shortly thereafter, Landau took to the small screen with his wife actress Barbara Bain in the spy action TV series “Mission: Impossible” as Rollin Hand, a makeup artist, magician and “man of a thousand faces.” In the mid-’70s, they worked together again on the British sci-fi series “Space: 1999.”
After a dry spell, film roles began rolling in again, with Landau securing parts in films like “Tucker: The Man and His Dream” (1988), “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (1989) and “Ed Wood” (1994), the later for which he won an Oscar, Golden Globe and SAG Award. After also taking roles in “Mistresses” with Robert De Niro, “City Hall” with Al Pacino and “Rounders” with Matt Damon, Landau headed back to TV for five seasons on “Without a Trace,” where he was nominated for an Emmy as a man suffering with Alzheimer’s disease.
Landau is survived by two daughters, Susan and Juliet, from his marriage to Bain, whom he divorced in 1993.