Martin Landau, star of 'Mission: Impossible,' dies at 89

Martin Landau

Martin Landau, one of the most celebrated actors in Hollywood, with a career that spans film and television and almost 60 years, died on Saturday, July 15, 2017.

Landau met Bruce Geller, the eventual creator of Mission: Impossible, when he invited the writer to an acting class. Landau could have landed another major role in an illustrious series, Star Trek, but he ultimately said no. I thought I was insane. Instead, he chose "Mission: Impossible", and Leonard Nimoy went on to everlasting fame as Spock.

Nimoy then replaced Landau on Mission: Impossible when he left in a salary dispute.

That same year he appeared in his first truly memorable role, in Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest", as a spy's henchman who was both menacing and, as Landau chose to play him, attracted to his boss (James Mason). An IMF agent known as "the man of a million faces", Rollin Hand was conceived as a brilliant impersonator, a characterization perfectly calibrated to Landau's gifts as an actor.

Later in his career, Landau played characters on TV show Entrourage and had just shot a role in the Cory Cataldo's Without Ward.

Landau earned three Academy Award nominations in his almost 60 year career: first for his performance in Francis Ford Coppola's Tucker: The Man and His Dream in 1988; then for his performance in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors in 1989; finally winning for his portrayal of Lugosi in Ed Wood in 1994.

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In a 2011 TV interview, he said, "I turned down Star Trek".

Martin Landau, actor and former Daily News employee. After a few years, though, he abruptly quit his job to follow his dream and become a theatrical actor, something he recognized many years later as a "crazy" idea. A gifted mimic trained in method acting, Landau had thoroughly researched the role. "I watched about 35 Lugosi movies, including ones that were worse than anything Ed Wood ever made", he recalled in 2001, ABC News reported.

Landau proved through the course of his career that he could perform any role handed to him. He found success on the stage in productions of Goat Song, Stalag 17, and First Love. The other was Steve McQueen. He toured with the play until it reached Los Angeles, where he began his film career.

Landau is survived by Bain and their two daughters, Susan Landau Finch and Juliet Landau.

Rounders is unlikely to end up on many Landau tributes due to Landau's limited screen time and that's a shame.

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