Oscar-winning actor Martin Landau dead at 89

Martin Landau

(Reuters) – Martin Landau, a talented and prolific character actor who achieved TV stardom in “Mission: Imposs-ible” and won an Oscar for his portrayal of a washed-up Bela Lugosi in the sweetly bizarre 1994 film “Ed Wood,” has died at age 89.

Landau died at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles on Saturday from unexpected complications during a short hospitalization for an undisclosed illness, publicist Dick Guttman said in a statement yetserday.

His long career had remarkable ups and downs. He delivered acclaimed performances in movies by top directors including Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen and Tim Burton, was nominated three times for Oscars, and co-starred in the spy series “Mission: Impossible” in the 1960s alongside then-wife Barbara Bain.

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.”

Martin Landau

“You know, I’ve always felt, pound for pound, I’m one of the best guys around; but you get stuck in people’s eyes in a certain way, and it takes an imaginative director who will look at you and realize you can play different kinds of parts because you are an actor,” Landau told the New York Times in 1988. “I don’t like to sound immodest but I believe in what I can do.”

Landau was named best supporting actor for his portrayal in “Ed Wood” of the fading, morphine-addicted Hungarian horrormeister Lugosi, star of “Dracula.” The quirky cast in Burton’s homage to fabled bad-movie director Wood included Johnny Depp, Bill Murray, Sarah Jessica Parker and wrestler George “The Animal” Steele.

“It’s impossible to overestimate the job that Landau does here as this sepulchral Hungarian,” Washington Post critic Hal Hinson wrote in his review of the 1994 film. “Both vocally and physically, he’s simply astounding.”

After winning the Oscar in March 1995, Landau gushed: “My God! What a night. What a life. What a moment. What everything!”

The tall, lanky Landau also was nominated for Oscars as best supporting actor for his role as a visionary carmaker’s partner in Coppola’s 1988 “Tucker: The Man and His Dream” – the role that revived his career – and as a man who kills his mistress in Allen’s 1989 “Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Landau also is remembered for a role he did not get. He was “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry’s first pick to portray pointy-eared Vulcan Mr. Spock, an iconic role that eventually went to Leonard Nimoy.

Nimoy then replaced Landau on “Mission: Impossible” when he left in a salary dispute.

Landau was friends in the 1950s with screen legends James Dean and Steve McQueen and studied under famed “method acting” proponent Lee Strasberg. His career included diverse roles in films, television and stage and was still going strong in the 2010s.

Early in his career, he made an impression with a villainous turn in director Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1959 thriller “North by Northwest.” His character, a henchman who menaces star Cary Grant, meets his demise beneath the Mount Rushmore busts of U.S. presidents.

It was the role of master of disguise Rollin Hand on “Mission: Impossible” that propelled Landau to stardom. He was married to co-star Bain from 1957 until their divorce in 1993. In 1968, Landau took the Golden Globe award as best male television star.

He also co-starred with Bain in the 1970s sci-fi series “Space: 1999” and appeared in Rod Serling’s acclaimed series “The Twilight Zone.” In 2011, he lent his voice to an episode of the venerable animated series “The Simpsons.”

Comments  

Petrotrin paid for ‘fake oil’

(Trinidad Guardian) It is now official. Two external audits have confirmed that there was a discrepancy between reported oil production in the Exploration and Production Operations in the Catshill Field operated by A&V Oil and Gas and the actual production receipts at Pointe-a-Pierre discovered by Petrotrin’s Internal Audit Department in the period January to June 2017.

Zimbabwe’s ruling party set to sack Mugabe, sources say

HARARE (Reuters) – The leaders of Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party will meet today to approve the dismissal of President Robert Mugabe, the only leader the southern African nation has known since independence 37 years ago, two party sources have said.

Gerry Adams to step down in end of an era for Irish nationalism

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams, a pivotal figure in the political life of Ireland for almost 50 years, said on Saturday he will step down as party leader and complete a generational shift in the former political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

US nuclear general says would resist ‘illegal’ Trump strike order

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top US nuclear commander said on Saturday that he would resist President Donald Trump if he ordered an “illegal” launch of nuclear weapons.

Despite US lagging, climate action gathers speed, if limited cash

BONN, Germany (Thomson Reuters Fou-ndation) – UN climate negotiations in Bonn, aimed at laying the groundwork for faster action to curb climate change and deal with its impacts, ended in the early hours of Saturday morning with solid progress on key issues, including preparations for ramping up carbon cuts.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

We built stabroeknews.com using new technology. This makes our website faster, more feature rich and easier to use for 95% of our readers.
Unfortunately, your browser does not support some of these technologies. Click the button below and choose a modern browser to receive our intended user experience.

Update my browser now

×