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Martin Landau 1928-2017

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Published on Jul 16, 2017

Martin Landau (June 20, 1928 – July 15, 2017) was an American film and television actor. His career started in the 1950s, with early film appearances including a supporting role in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959). He played regular roles in the television series Mission: Impossible (for which he received several Emmy Award nominations and a Golden Globe Award) and Space: 1999.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Landau started working as a cartoonist for the New York Daily News, illustrating Billy Rose's column "Pitching Horseshoes" and also assisting Gus Edson on the comic strip The Gumps during the 1940s and 1950s, eventually drawing the "Sunday strip" for Edson. At 22, he quit the Daily News to concentrate on theater acting. Influenced by Charlie Chaplin and the escapism of the cinema, Landau pursued an acting career. He attended the Actors Studio, becoming good friends with James Dean, and was later in the same class as Steve McQueen. In 1957, he made his Broadway debut in Middle of the Night. Landau made his first major film appearance in 1959, as Leonard, right-hand man of a criminal mastermind, in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest. He had featured roles in two 1960s epics, Cleopatra and The Greatest Story Ever Told, and played a ruthless killer in the 1965 western Nevada Smith, which starred Steve McQueen. Landau played the role of master of disguise Rollin Hand in the US television series Mission: Impossible, becoming one of its better-known stars. Landau co-starred in the series with his then-wife, Barbara Bain. In the mid-1970s, Landau and Bain returned to TV in the British science-fiction series Space: 1999. Although the series remains a cult classic for its high production values, critical response to Space: 1999 was unenthusiastic during its original run, and it was cancelled after two seasons. In the late 1980s, Landau made a career comeback, earning an Academy Award nomination for his role in Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988). This was followed by a second nomination, for 1989's Crimes and Misdemeanors, and later a win, for 1994's Ed Wood (in which he plays Bela Lugosi). Landau also received a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Saturn Award for the role, as well as accolades from a number of critics groups. In the early seasons of Without a Trace (2002–09), Landau was nominated for an Emmy Award for his portrayal of the Alzheimer's-afflicted father of FBI Special Agent in Charge Jack Malone. In recognition of his services to the motion picture industry, Martin Landau has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6841 Hollywood Boulevard.
Encouraged by his own mentor, Lee Strasberg, Landau also taught acting. Actors coached by him include Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston. In 2009, Landau and his Actors Studio colleagues, director Mark Rydell and writer Lyle Kessler, collaborated to produce the educational Total Picture Seminar, a two-day event covering the disciplines of acting, directing and writing for film.

Landau passed away at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California on July 15, 2017, at the age of 89.

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