A memorial celebration will be held Sunday in honor of Oscar-winning actor Martin Landau, who died in July at age 89.
Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz will host the event at the Writers Guild Theatre in Beverly Hills. Among those expected to speak are Gina Gershon and Diane Ladd.
The event will also feature a preview of Landau’s final film, “The Last Poker Game,” starring Paul Sorvino and Maria Dizzia. Excerpts will also be shown of an in-production documentary titled “An Actor’s Actor: The Art and Life of Martin Landau.”
Landau died July 15 after a brief illness and stay at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood.
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 television series, “Mission: Impossible,” leaving in 1969 because of a contract dispute.
Landau’s career saw a resurgence thanks to 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 “Ed Wood,” directed by Tim Burton.
Landau also portrayed 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.
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 Actors 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 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.
Donations in his memory can be made to the Actors Studio West, 8341 De Longpre Ave., West Hollywood, 90069.
–City News Service
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