Martin Landau, star of Ed Wood and Mission: Impossible, dies

Martin Landau, star of Ed Wood and Mission: Impossible, dies

His career was revived in 1988 when he received an Oscar nomination for his work in Francis Ford Coppola's Tucker: The Man and his Dream.

But during career doldrums, the New York-born Landau languished in third-rate projects such as the laughable 1981 TV movie The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island and the dispensable 1983 mutant monster movie The Being.

The veteran of the Actors Studio, for which he was West Coast co-artistic director, had many ups and downs in his career.

He worked at The Daily News in NY for five years, illustrating "Pitching Horseshoes", a column written by impresario Billy Rose, and assisting Gus Edson with the comic strip "The Gumps".

Once a newspaper cartoonist, Landau later took Hollywood by storm. A gifted mimic trained in method acting, Landau had thoroughly researched the role. "Star Trek" creator Gene Rodenberry had offered him the half-Vulcan, half-human who attempts to rid his life of all emotion.

But Landau had a long career in film appearing as a henchman in Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 classic North by Northwest and dozens of other movies.

Though Martin Landau was a two-time Oscar nominee when Tim Burton tabbed him to play Bela Legosi in 1994's Ed Wood, he identified with the Hungarian horror has-been and the deliciously very bad 1950s director.




But Landau, who spent five years at The News beginning in the late 1940s, said he caught the acting bug after going to see a News colleague who was appearing in an Off-Off Broadway play.

He won the best supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of horror actor Bela Lugosi in the 1994 Tim Burton film Ed Wood, which also starred Johnny Depp. He leaves behind his ex-wife and former Mission Impossible co-star.

Martin Landau's influence in the film industry is vast, inspiring countless actors and directors. The mark of a truly talented performer is their ability to make a small role memorable, and that's exactly what Landau did here.

No one had directed him in several decades, he said, adding that he brought his ideas to a role.

He is survived by his daughters Susie (a writer-producer) and Juliet (an actress known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer) from his marriage to Barbara Bain.

"I think if they don't like what I'm doing, they'll say something", he told the Los Angeles Times. Or I was getting up to bat and no one was pitching to me.

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