Martin Landau, who won the 1994 Oscar and Golden Globe Award for Best-Supporting Actor for his portrayal of an elderly, drug-addicted Bela Lugosi in the Tim Burton film, “Ed Wood” passed away in Los Angeles on July 15. He was 89.
As a young man, Mr. Landau worked as an illustrator for the New York Daily News. After appearing in summer stock and Off-Broadway performances, he was admitted to the Actor’s Studio in 1955, along with Steve McQueen. It was during this time, he became friends with fellow actor James Dean and even dated Marilyn Monroe.
While he worked in early television, it wasn’t until the 1959 when he had a breakthrough role in Alfred Hitchcock’s “North By Northwest,” playing the part of a spy’s henchman. In 1963, he played a Roman soldier alongside Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in “Cleopatra.” Two years later, Mr. Landau played the role of Caiaphas, a Jewish high priest in “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” From 1966 to 1969, he starred in the hit suspense TV series, Mission Impossible, playing the role of a versatile covert opps agent.
Roles dried up for Mr. Landau in the 1970s and 80s. An obituary in the New York Times states that he acknowledged a low point for him was in 1981, when he appeared in the TV movie “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island.”
His career comeback began in 1988 when he starred in “Tucker: The Man and His Dream,” a film by Francis Ford Coppola who cast Mr. Landau as the title character who challenged the Big 3 automakers in the 1940s. He was nominated for an Academy Award for the role. He was nominated again the following year for his role as a ophthamalogist in Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Recently, Mr. Landau saw success on television, receiving two Emmy nominations for “Without a Trace” and one for the HBO series “Entourage” He also appeared in the “Entourage” movie which was released in 2015.