Oscar-Winner Martin Landau Has Passed Away

Pierre Vaugeois
Juillet 17, 2017

He was also the West Coast co-artistic director for the Actors Studio, a position he held until his death.

Martin Landau, a talented and prolific character actor who achieved TV stardom in "Mission: Impossible" and won an Oscar for his portrayal of a washed-up Bela Lugosi in the sweetly weird 1994 film "Ed Wood", has died at age 89. In Lugosi, the washed-up former star of 1930s horror films such as Count Dracula, Landau found a forerunner he could relate to. And I can relate to that.

"Everything that has happened to me is of value to me. I've seen it happen to me".

In 1955, he was among hundreds who applied to study at the prestigious Actors Studio and one of only two selected.

He would follow that role with several appearances on popular television series in the late-'60s and '70s, including starring turns in both Mission: Impossible (1969) and Space: 1999 (1975), all while continuing to appear in a number of popular films.

However, Landau struggled to make headway in 60s Hollywood, securing down-the-bill roles in epics such as Cleopatra and The Greatest Story Ever Told.

It's fitting that Martin Landau played master of disguise Rollin Hand on the old Mission: Impossible series. RIP." There were also early tributes from his Entourage movie co-star Jerry Ferrara, who wrote: "Hes (sic) the definition of what a great actor is.

"It was an impulsive move on my part to do that", Landau said in 2013 (via THR). "I knew I wanted to go into the theater". I wasn't on anybody's list. "I mean, I couldn't even get in the room".

Academy award winning actor Martin Landau sits on his new star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as he poses for photographers during ceremonies to honor him, in Hollywood, Calif., on December 17, 2001.

In a 2011 TV interview, he said, "I turned down Star Trek".

Although well-reviewed, "Ed Wood" was not a commercial success, and Landau never fully capitalized on his renewed celebrity.

His best supporting actor Oscar win for his role in Tim Burton's 1994 Ed Wood capped a long and versatile career, filled with remarkable ups and downs. "I didn't have to drive a cab", he told The Boston Globe in 1989. "So I hit the mark, say the words and get the hell out of there".

Landau's career was then resurrected by director Francis Ford Coppola who picked him to play Abe Karatz - the business partner of automaker Preston Tucker, played by Jeff Bridges - in the 1988 film, "Tucker: The Man and His Dream". Landau finally won the statuette five years later at the third time of asking for Ed Wood. The two actors were nearly castmates on Star Trek, but Landau famously turned down the role of Mr. Spock, insisting he couldn't bear the thought of playing such an unemotional character. (1997) as a rich sugar daddy to Halle Berry and Natalie Desselle, and Burton's animated "Frankenweenie" (2012) as the voice of young Victor Frankenstein's science teachers.

He is survived by his two daughters, Juliet (an actress, known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Susie (a writer-producer), a sister, and one grandchild.

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