dglobalnews.com Martin Landau, Mission: Impossible and Ed Wood Star, Dead at 89
Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Global Media | By Cecelia Webb

Martin Landau, Mission: Impossible and Ed Wood Star, Dead at 89

Martin Landau, Mission: Impossible and Ed Wood Star, Dead at 89

Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry had offered him the role, but Landau turned it down.

Landau, who has also taught acting to such luminaries as Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

'I would've probably died playing that role.

Then he played a successful Jewish ophthalmologist haunted by a secret in Woody Allen's drama "Crimes and Misdemeanors".

He did. Makeup faithful to Lugosi and knowledge of the horror star's body language he gleaned from filmed interviews helped Landau stride away from his "Ed Wood" performance with both an Oscar and a Golden Globe. It's a small role that earned Landau his first Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.

Landau's film debut was in 1959's "Pork Chop Hill" starring Gregory Peck, but his first big splash, that same year, was as a menacing henchman in the Alfred Hitchcock classic "North by Northwest", starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. Landau subsequently collaborated with Burton twice more, in 2009's Sleepy Hollow and as a voice actor for the director's 2012 animated feature Frankenweenie. "What could I do?" he later lamented. He also appeared in films throughout the 1960s such as Cleopatra and The Greatest Story Ever Told before he was cast on "Mission: Impossible". His final role was Max in the 2015 thriller Remember.

Martin Landau in the Mission Impossible TV series. Landau stayed with the series for three years, through 1969, drawing Emmy nominations three years in a row.

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Television came to the rescue again with the two-year run of "Space: 1999" in the mid-'70s. A widely acknowledged nadir was the TV film "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island" (1981). They divorced in 1993.

"When I was growing up, every impressionist did awful Bela Lugosi imitations - "I want to drink your blood" - and I realized this was a field with tiger traps throughout", Landau told critic Roger Ebert, "and I had to walk carefully".

He brought poignancy to his role as a judge in "City Hall" and played Gepetto in "The Adventures of Pinocchio". In 1968, Landau took the Golden Globe award as best male television star.

Fans and celebrities, influenced by Landau's decades of work, paid tribute to the actor among numerous other credits.

In this October 7, 2008, file photo, Tim Robbins, from left, Martin Landau and Bill Murray attend a special screening of "City of Ember" in NY.

Landau had proposed making Leonard covertly gay and worked with screenwriter Ernest Lehman to craft a line about his "woman's intuition" - to be delivered before the character demonstrates how Mason's girlfriend (played by Eva Marie Saint) has betrayed them.

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