Flowers were placed Monday on the Hollywood Walk of Fame star of Martin Landau as Hollywood mourned the death of the Oscar-winning actor known to many fans for his work on the 1960s television series “Mission: Impossible.”
Landau, 89, died Saturday after a brief illness and stay at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood. Publicist Dick Guttman said funeral service for Landau will be private, but a public memorial will likely be held in the next few months.
Landau — winner of an Academy Award for his role in the 1994 film “Ed Wood” — rose to fame playing a killer in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1959 tale of intrigue, “North by Northwest.”
He then starred for three years in the hit series, “Mission: Impossible,” leaving in 1969 because of a contract dispute, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
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 also had the major role of Judah Rosenthal in Woody Allen’s 1989 movie, “Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Although he had previously been nominated for an Oscar, Landau won the prize for supporting actor for his portrayal of horror movie legend Bela Lugosi in the 1994 film, “Ed Wood,” directed by Tim Burton.
Landau also portrayed a space commander John Koenig in the 1970s TV series, “Space 1999,” in which Landau again played opposite his “Mission: Impossible” co-star and former wife, Barbara Bain.
Landau and Bain were married from 1957 to 1993.
“If one could examine his DNA, it would read `actor,”‘ Bain said. “He embraced every role with fire and fierce dedication. Playing Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s `Ed Wood’ was his loving tribute to all actors and garnered him a well-deserved Academy Award. His work was his joy and his legacy.”
Landau turned down the role of Mr. Spock in the original “Star Trek” series, a role that ultimately went to Leonard Nimoy, who had replaced Landau on the “Mission: Impossible” show after Landau quit.
Landau also taught acting at the famed Actor’s Studio, and at his death was serving as its artistic director, a post he shared with director Mark Rydell. Landau was best friends with James Dean and a one-time beau of legendary actress Marilyn Monroe, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Landau — born and raised in Brooklyn — landed a job as a cartoonist at the New York Daily News at age 17, until he quit five years later to pursue acting.
Landau began his career on the stage in New York, doing roles in such plays as “Stalag 17,” “Goat Song,” “First Love,” and “Middle of the Night,” the first play written by famed playwright Paddy Chayevsky.
Landau also played roles in such movies as “Cleopatra,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” “The Hallelujah Trail,” “Nevada Smith” and “They Call Me Mr. Tibbs.”
Landau is survived by two daughters, Susan Landau Finch and Juliet Landau.
— City News Service
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