Martin Landau

Martin Landau Headshot

Actor • Producer • Cartoonist

Birth Date: June 20, 1928

Death Date: July 15, 2017

Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York

Spouses: Barbara Bain

Though he got his start as an actor during the golden age of television in the 1950s, Martin Landau had to wait until the late 1980s until he became a widely recognized commodity. After five years as a cartoonist, Landau switched gears to become an actor, performing in live television productions before graduating to Hollywood features in the 1960s.

Toward the latter half of that precarious decade, he landed his first truly memorable role, playing master of disguise Rollin Hand on the hit spy series "Mission: Impossible" (CBS, 1966-1973). Though the show lasted for seven seasons, Landau left after the third because of a contractual dispute, a move that left the actor struggling to find quality roles for almost two decades.

Landau had a particularly rough time during the 1980s despite steady work, mainly as a one-dimensional villain in projects more concerned with car chases and explosions than character or story. He finally re-emerged with Oscar-nominated roles in "Tucker: The Man and His Dream" (1988) and "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989), eventually winning his first Academy Award for his spot-on portrayal of aging silent film star Bela Lugosi in "Ed Wood" (1994), all of which paved the way for higher profile projects for an actor always capable of quality performances. Martin Landau continued to work steadily in character roles in film and on television for the rest of his life. His death at the age of 89 on July 15, 2017 was greeted with mourning and fond remembrances from fans and peers around the globe.

Born in Brooklyn, NY on June 20, 1931, Landau was raised by his father, Morris, a machinist in Manhattan's famed Garment District, and his mother, Selma, a homemaker. After graduating James Madison High School in 1946, Landau studied drawing at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, then began work at The New York Daily News as a cartoonist and editorial artist when he was just 17. For five years, Landau illustrated the column "Pitching Horseshoes" and assisted drawing Gus Edson's famed comic strip "The Gumps." But when he was 22, Landau - who had only two stage productions to his name - suddenly announced that he was quitting the paper to pursue acting. In short order, he was among the thousands of struggling actors looking for jobs off-Broadway and in summer stock. In 1955, he was one of two thousand applicants for the famed Actors Studio, lead by acclaimed acting coach Lee Strasberg. Only two were admitted: Landau and Steve McQueen. Meanwhile, he found himself in demand, landing television roles during its heyday of live productions on such anthologies as "Playhouse 90" (CBS, 1956-1960), "Kraft Television Theater" (NBC, 1947-1958) and "Studio One" (CBS, 1947-1957).

After a successful tour alongside Edward G. Robinson in the Broadway production of "Middle of the Night" (1957), Landau made his film debut in the Korean War actioner "Pork Chop Hill" (1959), starring Gregory Peck as the leader of an army unit that suffers terrible losses storming a Chinese-held hill. Landau's film career blossomed with his second film, Alfred Hitchcock's legendary suspense thriller, "North by Northwest" (1959), in which he played Leonard, one of the film's more prominent villains. Landau was a main supporting character in "Cleopatra" (1963), the notorious sword and sandal epic that became known for its long and arduous production which included massive cost overruns that nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox, a near-death experience of star Elizabeth Taylor, and the scandalous affair between her and co-star Richard Burton. Landau's participation in the doomed "Cleopatra" prevented him from working with Federico Fellini on "8 1/2" (1963), but he did memorable television work in sympathetic roles on "The Outer Limits" (ABC, 1963-65) and was equally impressionable as the evil Caiaphas in director George Stevens' reverential biopic of Jesus, "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (1965).

Although Landau had generally been cast as villains or as serious and often morose types, his versatility found a good showcase in what became one his best-remembered roles, playing master-of-disguise Rollin Hand on the famed spy series, "Mission: Impossible." Landau was then married to actor Barbara Bain, who also starred on "Mission," and after three seasons, both left the series in 1969 after a contract dispute. The series successfully ran on for several more seasons, but Landau found difficulty maintaining a high profile. He did manage to land several features, television movies and series pilots like "A Town Called Hell" (1971), "Black Gunn" (1972) and "Savage" 1973"), but found little in the way of quality work. In the mid-1970s, Landau and Bain moved to England to star in a syndicated television sci-fi series, "Space: 1999" (ITV, 1975-77). Although the series was well-acted and had its merits, the show ultimately was unable to sustain itself, while the pensive, slightly worried-looking Landau failed to live up to the usual adventure hero standards. After the program folded, Landau, handicapped by his previous villain roles and TV fame, did keep busy but was hardly challenged by a decade of roles in films like "Meteor" (1979), "The Being" (1983) and "Cyclone" (1987). He reached his nadir early in the decade, however, with the impossible to imagine television movie, "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island" (NBC, 1981).

Landau began a career revival at the end of the 1980s when he had a quality supporting turn as Abe Karatz, the sympathetic money man in Francis Ford Coppola's "Tucker: The Man and His Dream" (1988), which netted him a first-ever Oscar nomination. He scored a second consecutive Oscar nod with his splendid work as a morally troubled eye doctor who, with the help of his criminally-connected brother (Jerry Orbach), plots to murder his mistress (Anjelica Huston) in Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989). Landau continued enjoying his renaissance with fine roles in television movies, including "Max and Helen" (TNT, 1990) and "Legacy of Lies" (USA, 1992). He received some of the finest notices of his uneven, but distinguished career for his portrayal of faded film star Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's affectionate biopic "Ed Wood" (1994). Nominated for Best Supporting Actor once again, this time Landau left the Academy Awards ceremony with an award in hand, receiving validation at long last.

After his Oscar triumph, Landau suddenly found himself in serious demand and played a wide range of characters, including an honest judge in the political corruption drama "City Hall" (1996) and a restrained turn as the woodcarver Geppetto in a live-action version of "The Adventures of Pinocchio" (1996). The comedy "B.A.P.

S" (1997) cast him as a wealthy man who takes two waitresses with big dreams (Halle Berry and Natalie Desselle) under his wing, while in the feature version of the hit television show, "The X-Files: Fight the Future" (1998), Landau offered an incisive performance as a conspiracy theorist offering assistance to Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson). He followed with turns as the mentor to Matt Damon's card sharp in "Rounders" (1998) and as Matthew McConaughy's wheelchair-bound stepfather in Ron Howard's "EDtv" (1999). Landau also portrayed the titular figure in his advanced years in the two-part miniseries, "Bonanno: A Godfather's Story" (Showtime, 1999), a true-to-life biopic on the lesser-known Mafioso who returns to his native Sicily in his advanced years to reflect on his life.

Turning to classics of myth and legend, Landau next took the role of Geppetto in "The New Adventures of Pinocchio" (1999) and reunited with Tim Burton for an uncredited cameo in "Sleepy Hollow" (1999). The veteran actor then appeared in wrestling comedy "Ready to Rumble" (2000), cool crime indie "Very Mean Men" (2000), and barely-seen "King Lear"-inspired boxing drama "Shiner" (2000) opposite Michael Caine. Landau found better roles in the miniseries "In the Beginning" (2000), playing the biblical Abraham, and director Frank Darabont's earnest, if not-quite-Capraesque effort "The Majestic" (2000), opposite Jim Carrey. He also appeared in a small role in the action-comedy bomb "Hollywood Homicide" (2003) with Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett. After a two-decades absence from the small screen, Landau returned with a recurring role on the hit crime drama "Without A Trace" (CBS, 2002-09), playing Jack Malone's (Anthony LaPaglia) Alzheimer's-ridden father. Returning to the feature world, he starred in the World War II drama "The Aryan Couple" (2005), playing a wealthy Jewish man who, along with his wife (Judy Parfitt), is granted immunity from the death camps if he allows the Nazis to confiscate everything he owns. As a requisite for safe passage, however, the elderly couple must dine with both Heinrich Himmler and Adolph Eichmann.

In 2006, Landau made his first foray into regular series work since "Space: 1999" as the head of forensics on "The Evidence" (ABC, 2005-06), a procedural about two homicide detectives (Orlando Jones and Rob Estes) piecing together seemingly disparate clues to solve a crime. Landau next appeared in a three-show arc during the third season of the popular HBO series, "Entourage" (2004-2011), as a thinly-veiled caricature of infamous producer Robert Evans. Evans gave the producers of "Entourage" the okay to film at his extravagant Beverly Hills mansion, but was later miffed with Landau's characterization of him as an old, bumbling wash-up who constantly utters the tagline, "Is that something you might be interested in?" Executives from HBO countered by saying there was no intention to mock Evans. Intentional or not, Landau's comedic turn earned the actor an Emmy nod for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. Following turns in little seen features like "City of Ember" (2008) and "David & Fatima" (2008)...

Landau played an elderly grocery store clerk who discovers romance for the first time in "Lovely, Still" (2010). Following an episode of "In Plain Sight" (USA Network, 2008-2012), Landau starred in "Mitch Albom's Have a Little Faith" (ABC, 2011), where he played an aging rabbi who asks Albom (Bradley Whitford) to pen his eulogy since he knows he will soon die. After reuniting with Burton for a voice role in "Frankenweenie" (2012) and reprising his role as Bob Ryan in the big-screen reboot of "Entourage" (2015), Landau co-starred in the made for TV movie "The Anna Nicole Story" (Lifetime 2013), Atom Egoyan's thriller "Remember" (2015) and played the lead in end-of-life comedy-drama "The Last Poker Game" (2017). Martin Landau died of unspecified natural causes in Los Angeles on July 15, 2017. He was 89.

Credits

Without Ward

Actor
Ward
Movie
2022

Gerry Anderson's Greatest Episodes

Actor
Commander John Koenig
Show
2021

Schweizer Film

Actor
Don Farinelli
Show
2018

Abe's Last Poker Game

Actor
Abe
Movie
2017

The Red Maple Leaf

Actor
Bernard Florence
Movie
2016

RememberStream

Actor
Max Rosenbaum
Movie
2015
69%

ORF III - Spezial

Actor
Show
2014

Outlaw Prophet: Warren Jeffs

Actor
Rulon Jeffs
Movie
2014

Anna Nicole

Actor
J. Howard Marshall
Movie
2013

Frankenweenie: Extras

Actor
Show
2012

Frankenweenie

Voice
Mr. Rzykruski
Movie
2012

Mitch Albom's Have a Little Faith

Actor
Rabbi Albert Lewis
Movie
2011

Mysteria

Actor
Hotel Manager
Movie
2011

The Talk

Guest
Talk
2010

Ivory

Actor
Leon Spencer
Movie
2010

Unscripted

Guest
Show
2009

9Stream

Voice
2
Movie
2009
57%

In Plain SightStream

Guest Star
Joseph Thomas / Joseph Tancredi
Series
2008

City of Ember

Actor
Sul
Movie
2008

David & Fatima

Actor
Rabbi Schmulic
Movie
2008

Billy: The Early Years

Actor
Charles Templeton - older
Movie
2008

Lovely, Still

Actor
Robert Malone
Movie
2008

Harrison Montgomery

Actor
Harrison Montgomery
Movie
2008

The Evidence

Actor
Dr. Sol Goldman
Show
2006

Love Made Easy

Actor
Don Farinelli
Movie
2006

An Existential Affair

Actor
Doctor
Movie
2006

EntourageStream

Guest Star
Bob Ryan
Series
2004
65%

Tavis Smiley

Guest
Talk
2004

The Aryan Couple

Actor
Joseph Krauzenberg
Movie
2004

Wake

Actor
Older Sebastian Riven
Movie
2004

The Commission

Actor
Sen. Richard Russell
Movie
2003

Hollywood HomicideStream

Actor
Wasley
Movie
2003
30%

Without a TraceStream

Guest Star
Series
2002

Shanghai Ghetto

Narrator
Movie
2002

Haven

Actor
Show
2001

Haven

Actor
Papa Gruber
Movie
2001

The Majestic

Actor
Harry Trimble
Movie
2001

The New Adventures of Pinocchio

Actor
Geppetto
Movie
2001

In the Beginning...

Actor
Show
2000

Ready to Rumble

Actor
Sal Bandini
Movie
2000

Shiner

Actor
Frank Spedding
Movie
2000

Very Mean Men

Actor
Mr. White
Movie
2000

Bonanno: A Godfather's Story

Actor
Joseph Bonanno, age 94
Show
1999

EDtv

Actor
Al
Movie
1999

The Joyriders

Actor
Gordon Trout
Movie
1999

The X-FilesStream

Actor
Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil
Movie
1998
66%

RoundersStream

Actor
Abe Petrovsky
Movie
1998
64%

Merry Christmas, George Bailey

Actor
Show
1997

B.A.P.SStream

Actor
Mr. Donald Blakemore
Movie
1997
15%

Legend of the Spirit Dog

Voice
Storyteller
Movie
1997

City HallStream

Actor
Walter Stern
Movie
1996
56%

The Adventures of Pinocchio

Actor
Geppetto
Movie
1996

The Elevator

Actor
Roy Tilden
Movie
1996

Joseph

Actor
Show
1995

Joseph

Actor
Jacob
Movie
1995

Inside the Actors Studio

Guest
Talk
1994

Time Is Money

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Mac
Movie
1994

Intersection

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Neal
Movie
1994

Ed WoodStream

Actor
Bela Lugosi
Movie
1994
93%

Color of Evening

Actor
Max Loeb
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1994

Un Minuto Después de la Medianoche

Actor
Movie
1993

SliverStream

Actor
Alex Parsons
Movie
1993
15%

12:01

Actor
Dr. Thadius Moxley
Movie
1993

Eye of the Stranger

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Mayor Howard Bains
Movie
1993

No Place to Hide

Actor
Frank McCoy
Movie
1993

Peligroso Deseo

Actor
Movie
1992

Justicia y Deshonor

Actor
Movie
1992

Legacy of Lies

Actor
Abraham Resnick
Movie
1992

Something to Live For: The Alison Gertz Story

Actor
Jerry Gertz
Movie
1992

Mistress

Actor
Jack Roth
Movie
1992

Secrets of the Unknown

Narrator
Show
1991

Hollywood Mistress

Actor
Movie
1991

Echoes That Remain

Narrator
Movie
1991

Ojos de Fuego

Actor
Movie
1990

Niebla en el Pasado

Actor
Movie
1990

By Dawn's Early LightStream

Actor
President
Movie
1990

Firehead

Actor
Adm. Pendleton
Movie
1990

Max and Helen

Actor
Simon Wiesenthal
Movie
1990

The SimpsonsStream

Guest Voice
The Great Raymondo
Series
1989
85%

Crimes and Misdemeanors

Actor
Judah Rosenthal
Movie
1989
92%

The Neon Empire

Actor
Max
Movie
1989

Paint It Black

Actor
Daniel Lambert
Movie
1989

Tucker: The Man and His DreamStream

Actor
Abe Karatz/Voice of Walter Winchell on radio
Movie
1988
81%

Cyclone

Actor
Bosarian
Movie
1987

Sweet Revenge

Actor
Cicero
Movie
1987

Revancha Asesina

Actor
Movie
1987

Delta Fever

Actor
Bud
Movie
1987

Empire State

Actor
Chuck
Movie
1987

Run If You Can

Actor
Malvani
Movie
1987

Death Blow

Actor
Judge Shaw
Movie
1987

Kung Fu: The Movie

Actor
John Martin Perkins III
Movie
1986

The Twilight Zone

Actor
Series
1985

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Actor
Show
1985

Treasure Island

Actor
Old Captain
Movie
1985

Murder, She WroteStream

Guest Star
Al Drake
Series
1984

Código de Acceso

Actor
Movie
1984

Trial by Terror

Actor
Movie
1984

Access Code

Actor
Agency Head
Movie
1984

Hotel

Guest Star
Soap
1983

The Being

Actor
Garson Jones
Movie
1983

The Fall of the House of Usher

Actor
Roderick Usher
Movie
1982

Alone in the Dark

Actor
Byron "Preacher" Sutcliff
Movie
1982

The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island

Actor
J.J. Pierson
Movie
1981

Alien Warning

Actor
Fred "Sarge" Dobbs
Movie
1980

Without Warning

Actor
Fred "Sarge" Dobbs
Movie
1980

The Return

Actor
Niles Buchanan
Movie
1980

The Death of Ocean View Park

Actor
Tom Flood
Movie
1979

The Last Word

Actor
Captain Garrity
Movie
1979

MeteorStream

Actor
General Adlon
Movie
1979
5%

Beyond Reason

Actor
Movie
1978

Strange Shadows in an Empty Room

Actor
Dr. George Tracer
Movie
1976

Alien Attack

Actor
Commander John Koenig
Movie
1976

Spécial Magnum

Actor
George Tracer
Movie
1976

Space: 1999Stream

Actor
John Koenig
Series
1975
66%

The Cosmic Princess

Actor
Commander John Koenig
Movie
1975

Destination Moonbase Alpha

Actor
Commander John Koenig
Movie
1975

Journey Through the Black Sun

Actor
Commander John Koenig
Movie
1975

Colombo: Doppio shock

Actor
Dexter Paris, Norman Paris
Movie
1973

Columbo: Double choc

Actor
Movie
1973

Black Gunn

Actor
Capelli
Movie
1972

Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol

Actor
Johnny Bristol
Movie
1972

Savage

Actor
Paul Savage
Movie
1972

Situation: Normal A.F.U.

Actor
Joe Mellone
Movie
1972

Gunn la gachette

Actor
Movie
1972

ColumboStream

Guest Star
Dexter Paris, Norman Paris
Series
1971
84%

A Town Called Hell

Actor
The Colonel
Movie
1971

Noches Sin Fin

Actor
Movie
1970

Operation Snafu

Actor
Joe Mellone
Movie
1970

They Call Me Mister Tibbs!Stream

Actor
Logan Sharpe
Movie
1970
50%

スパイ大作戦/薔薇の秘密指令

Actor
Movie
1969

The Carol Burnett ShowStream

Guest
Variety Show
1967

Mission: ImpossibleStream

Actor
Rollin Hand
Series
1966

Nevada Smith

Actor
Jesse Coe
Movie
1966

The Wild, Wild WestStream

Guest Star
Series
1965

I SpyStream

Guest Star
Series
1965

The Big Valley

Guest Star
Series
1965

A Man Called Shenandoah

Guest Star
Show
1965

Branded-1965

Guest Star
Series
1965

The Hallelujah TrailStream

Actor
Chief Walks-Stooped-Over
Movie
1965
33%

The Greatest Story Ever ToldStream

Actor
Caiaphas
Movie
1965
42%

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Stream

Guest Star
Series
1964
100%

The Ghost of Sierra de Cobre

Actor
Nelson Orion
Movie
1964

Mr. Novak

Guest Star
Show
1963

The Outer LimitsStream

Actor
Andro
Series
1963
92%

CleopatraStream

Actor
Rufio
Movie
1963

Alfred Hitchcock HourStream

Actor
Series
1962

Stagecoach to Dancers' Rock

Actor
Dade Coleman
Movie
1962

The Tall Man

Guest Star
Francisco Valdez
Series
1960

The Untouchables

Guest Star
Series
1959

The Twilight ZoneStream

Actor
Major Ivan Kuchenko
Series
1959
92%

Johnny Ringo

Guest Star
Series
1959

BonanzaStream

Guest Star
Series
1959

Johnny Staccato

Guest Star
Series
1959

RawhideStream

Guest Star
Series
1959

Pork Chop Hill

Actor
Lt. Marshall
Movie
1959

The GazeboStream

Actor
The Duke/A. Wellington Broos
Movie
1959

North by NorthwestStream

Actor
Leonard
Movie
1959
97%

Lawman

Guest Star
Series
1958

The RiflemanStream

Guest Star
Series
1958

Wagon TrainStream

Guest Star
Preacher
Series
1957

Tales of Wells FargoStream

Guest Star
Doc Holliday
Series
1957

GunsmokeStream

Guest Star
Britton
Series
1955

Marshal Dillon

Guest Star
Show
1955

Today

Guest
News
1952

News aboutMartin Landau