Martin Landau has passed away at the age of 89 leaving behind an incredible legacy. While today’s generation may not place his name, his face can be spotted in beloved popular culture classics ranging from film to television. It is a difficult task to summarize Landau’s incredible body of work; a documentary An Actor’s Actor: The Life of Martin Landau, was in the works before his passing and will hopefully do him justice.
The idea of a cartoonist becoming an actor might seem ridiculous, but Landau took a chance and decided to follow his passion into acting. From there, his career allowed him to cross paths with the likes of Jack Nicholson, whom he taught how to act. He was the boyfriend of Marilyn Monroe and the best friend of James Dean in the 1950’s. His acting legacy is even more impressive with a starring role in the Mission: Impossible series which he eventually left due to contract troubles. While there he earned an Emmy nomination for every season he was on and performed with his wife, fellow cast member Barbra Bain. They were married from 1957 to 1993, unfortunately ending in divorce.
A Life In Pictures
Martin Landau’s fame had blossomed before Mission: Impossible. He had a notable stage career early on, and Alfred Hitchcock saw a performance leading him to be cast as a villain in North By Northwest. Later in his career post Impossible, he starred in sci-fi adventure series Space:1999. He revived his career in the 1980’s with Tucker: The Man and His Dream, earning an Oscar nomination for his performance. Landau would go on to work with Woody Allen in Crimes And Misdemeanours in 1989, which led to a second Oscar nomination. Despite eluding him for some time, Landau finally became an Academy Award Winner for his beloved, revered and celebrated turn as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood in 1994. Tim Burton and Martin Landau formed a special friendship, it was claimed neither needed to finish a sentence in the presence of each other. They just clicked.
Later in life
In 1999, he would appear in Sleepy Hollow working with Burton, in the beloved Hammer horror style film. Landau would return to television in the 2000’s with appearances in the series Entourage and Without A Trace. It was there he was Emmy-nominated for his incredible portrayal of a man battling Alzheimer’s. He would work with Burton again in 2012 for Frankenweenie. He was able to attend the Tribeca Film Festival this year for one of his final appearances on film in The Last Poker Game and has sci-fi drama Without Ward still to come.
Martin Landau will be missed by all who have seen his amazing performances, he has left an indelible mark on the world of film and television. Take a bow sir, the curtain has fallen on an amazing life and career.