Martin Landau

Martin Landau, Actor, NYC

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Martin Landau (born June 20, 1931) is an Academy Award-winning American film and television actor. He is perhaps most well-known for his roles in the television series Mission: Impossible (1966 - 1969) and Space: 1999 (1975 - 1977). He received a Golden Globe award in 1969 for his performance in the former, playing the role of mission specialist Rollin Hand. In 1968 and 1969 he received Emmy award nominations for best actor in a dramatic series for his Mission: Impossible work. In 1994 he won the Oscar (among other awards) for Best Supporting Actor in the critically acclaimed movie Ed Wood, having already received two previous Oscar nominations.


Landau was born in Brooklyn, New York, and at the age of 17 began working as a cartoonist for the New York Daily News, but influenced by Charlie Chaplin and the escapism of the cinema, he pursued becoming an actor. He attended the Actors' Studio in the same class with Steve McQueen and in 1957, Landau made his Broadway debut in Middle of the Night. Encouraged by his mentor Lee Strasberg, Landau also taught acting. Some of the actors he has coached include Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston. In 1959, Landau made his first major film appearance in Alfred Hitchcock's, North by Northwest at the age of 28. A few years later, after turning down the role of Spock in Star Trek, Landau took the role of master of disguise Rollin Hand in Mission: Impossible, becoming one of the shows best-known stars. According to The Complete Mission: Impossible Dossier by Patrick J. White (Avon Books, 1991), Landau initially declined to be contracted to the show as he didn't want it to interfere with his film career; instead, for the first season he was credited as a "special guest star", later becoming a "full-time" cast member with the second season, although the studio agreed to only contract him on a year-by-year basis rather than the then-standard five years. The role of Rollin Hand required Landau to perform a wide range of accents and characters from dictators to thugs, and several episodes saw Landau playing dual roles -- not only Hand's impersonation, but also the "original" person (such as in the first episode of the series).

He co-starred in the series with his then-wife, Barbara Bain, and the two left the series after the third season. Salary is the most-often cited reason for their departure, however the exact reasons are disputed.

In the mid-1970s, Landau and Barbara Bain, teamed with Barry Morse, returned to television in the British science fiction series, Space: 1999. Although it remains a cult classic due to its high production design values, the series was critically derided during its run and was cancelled after two seasons; Landau himself became very critical of the show's scripts and storylines, especially during its second season, but praised the cast and crew. He wrote forewords for Barry Morse's 2006 theatrical memoir Remember With Advantages and for Jim Smith's critical biography of Tim Burton.

After Space: 1999, Landau appeared in supporting roles in a number of films and TV shows of varying quality, including The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (which again co-starred Bain; the last time the two acted together on screen).

In the late-1980s, Landau staged a major career comeback by winning an Academy Award nomination for his role in Tucker: The Man and His Dream. He later received a second nomination for Crimes and Misdemeanors and won the 1994 Best Supporting Actor award for his uncanny portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood. Upon accepting the award he was visibly frustrated by the orchestra's attempt to cut short his speech. When the music level rose, he pounded his fist on the podium and yelled "No!" (He later stated that he had intended to thank Lugosi and dedicate the award to him and his frustration was that he didn't get to mention the man whom he had been honoured for playing.) Landau also received a Screen Actors' Guild Award, a Golden Globe, and a Saturn Award for the role, as well as awards from several critics groups.[1] Upon winning the Academy Award, a reporter for the L.A. Times stated that "the award goes to Martin Landau; its shadow goes to Bela Lugosi," which Landau admits (on the Ed Wood DVD) to being very impressed by.

He has two daughters, Susan and Juliet, from his marriage to Barbara Bain. Landau and Bain married on January 31, 1957 and divorced in 1993.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Martin Landau has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6841 Hollywood Blvd.

In 2006, Landau made a guest appearance on the TV series Entourage, playing a washed-up, but determined and sympathetic Hollywood producer attempting to relive his glory days. Landau received a 2007 Emmy nomination for his performance in this role.

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