Martin Landau Dies; Legendary Actor Was 89
Martin Landau, a veteran actor whose work has spanned the big screen and small screen, died Saturday afternoon at UCLA Medical Center.
He was 89 years old.
According to TMZ, which broke this sad piece of news, Landau passed away at approximately 1:30 p.m. local time.
He had just recently been hospitalized for unknown reasons and had suffered a few health-related complications before passing away.
Among the many impressive credits to his name, Landau starred in such films as Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (for which he won an Academy Award) and Cleopatra.
Within the realm of television, Landau is likely best known for his role on the series Mission: Impossible.
He left that show after three seasons due to a contract dispute.
Landau, who started work as a cartoon, got his major acting breaking playing a gay henchman in the aforementioned Hitchcock classic, which came out in 1959.
At that time, of course, portraying a homosexual man in a movie was not a common occurrence.
Landau received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance in Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988) and again a year later in the same category for Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors.
He finally won his lone Oscar in 1994.
Perhaps most famously, however, the beloved actor actually turned down the role of Mr. Spock on the NBC series Star Trek; it ended up going to Leonard Nimoy, of course.
“I turned down Star Trek. It would’ve been torturous,” the star said during a 2011 edition of the PBS documentary series Pioneers of Television, adding at that time:
“I would’ve probably died playing that role. I mean, even the thought of it now upsets me.
“It was the antithesis of why I became an actor. I mean, to play a character that Lenny (Nimoy) was better suited for, frankly, a guy who speaks in a monotone who never gets excited, never has any guilt, never has any fear or was affected on a visceral level.
“Who wants to do that?”
Throughout his amazing career, Landau befriended such legends as James Dean and Jack Nicholson, while he briefly dated Marilyn Monroe.
Toward the end of his career Landau earned Emmy Award nominations for playing the father of Anthony LaPaglia’s character on Without a Trace and for guest-starring as an out-of-touch movie producer on Entourage.
He portrayed billionaire J. Howard Marshall, the 90-year-old husband of Anna Nicole Smith, in a 2013 Lifetime biopic about the late model; and starred opposite Christopher Plummer in Remember in 2015.
Expect many tributes from Hollywood greats to come pouring in as news of his death spreads.
Altogether, he appeared in close to 200 movies and television shows.
May Martin Landau rest in peace.