Los Angeles, July 17: Oscar-winning actor Martin Landau, mostly known for films like “North by Northwest”, “Crimes and Misdemeanors” and “Ed Wood”, passed away here. He was 89.
He died on July 15, said his publicist. He had been hospitalised at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) where he experienced complications, reports variety.com.
The veteran of the Actors Studio, for which he was West Coast co-artistic director, had many ups and downs in his career.
The five times Emmy-nominated actor mostly got leading man roles on the small screen, most notably as Rollin Hand, a master of disguise on “Mission: Impossible”.
He also starred in sci-fi series “Space: 1999”, in which he co-starred with then-wife Barbara Bain.
In the late 1980s, Francis Ford Coppola cast him in “Tucker: The Man and His Dream”, which brought Landau the first of his three Oscar supporting actor nominations.
Then he played a successful Jewish ophthalmologist haunted by a secret in Woody Allen’s drama “Crimes and Misdemeanors”. It brought him an Oscar nomination for the second year in a row.
In 1994, he played the dying, once-famous screen ghoul Bela Lugosi, in Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood”. Landau won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Landau made his first big screen impression in Alfred Hitchcock’s action suspenser “North by Northwest”, playing the villain. His act led to a major supporting role in the epic “Cleopatra”.
During the 1960s, he had character roles in “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, “Nevada Smith” and “The Hallelujah Trail”.
Landau had been doing television work since the 1950s but got busy in TV in the mid-1960s, with several guest appearances on “The Outer Limits” and “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”
He was producer Gene Roddenberry’s first choice for the role of Spock on “Star Trek”, but the role went to Leonard Nimoy after Landau opted for “Mission: Impossible”.
He and Bain divorced, and Landau spent the 1980s in roles in mostly obscure films. He also worked as an acting teacher, reports variety.com.
Landau provided voices for the 1997 Oscar-winning documentary “The Long Way Home” and appeared as himself in the documentaries “Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen’s”, “Cannes: Through the Eyes of the Hunter” and “Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There” (2003) as well as a 2011 “American Masters” documentary on Woody Allen.
He started out as a cartoonist, spending four years with the New York Daily News from 1948-51, then turned his attentions to acting.
His film debut came in a small role in “Pork Chop Hill” in 1959, followed by a larger role in “The Gazebo”.
He is survived by two daughters, writer-producer-casting director Susan Landau Finch and actress Juliet Landau, a sister and a granddaughter.