Facts about Martin Landau

Martin Landau died at 89 years old
Born: June 20, 1928
Died: July 15, 2017
Best known as: Bela Lugosi in the 1994 movie 'Ed Wood'

     

     

Martin Landau Biography

Oscar-winning actor Martin Landau played sly and intelligent crooks, secret agents, businessmen, astronauts and killers in a career that lasted six decades. He he won a best supporting actor Oscar as a decrepit Béla Lugosi in the 1994 freak biopic Ed Wood.

Martin Landau was born in Brooklyn in 1928. A talented cartoonist, he began a job with the New York Daily News at age 17, but quit a few years later to pursue acting instead. In 1955 he began training at the Actors Studio, and in 1957 made his Broadway debut in the play Middle of the Night. His movie career got a jump-start when Alfred Hitchcock cast him as Leonard, the deadly henchman to James Mason and tormentor of Cary Grant, in the 1959 thriller North By Northwest.

In the 1960s he gained television fame in the spy show Mission: Impossible, playing master of disguise Rollin Hand. (His wife, Barbara Bain, was a co-star.) He left the show in a contract dispute after three seasons (1966-69), and his career went into a funk — although he and Bain starred together in the sci-fi show Space: 1999 from 1975-77.

But Landau bounced back with an Oscar nomination for the automobile drama Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1999, with Jeff Bridges) and another as a secretly murderous husband in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989). Landau finally got his Oscar with a win for Tim Burton‘s strange dramedy Ed Wood (1994), with Landau playing Dracula actor Lugosi to Johnny Depp’s crazed title director.

Though he never hit those heights again, Landau stayed busy into the 21st century, including a funny guest role as a washed-up but still-hustling producer in the TV series Entourage. His other films include Cleopatra (1963, with Elizabeth Taylor), the Biblical epic The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), The Adventures of Pinocchio (1996, with Landau as Gepetto), Rounders (1998) and Hollywood Homicide (2003).

He died in 2017 after a short stay at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Extra credit

Martin Landau married fellow actor Barbara Bain in 1957; they were divorced in 1993. They had two daughters: Susan (born 1960) and Juliet (b. 1965). Landau and Bain starred together in Mission: Impossible; she played Cinnamon Carter… Martin Landau was offered the part of Mr. Spock in the TV series Star Trek, but turned it down; the part went to Leonard Nimoy instead.


     

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