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Martin Landau dead at age 89

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to all of us he is van damm's right hand man Leonard from north by northwest but he is also Commander John Koenig of Moonbase Alpha.

 

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http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/martin-landau-dead-ed-wood-811318

 

Martin Landau, the all-purpose actor who showcased his versatility as a master of disguise on the Mission: Impossible TV series and as a broken-down Bela Lugosi in his Oscar-winning performance in Ed Wood, has died. He was 89. 

Landau, who shot to fame by playing a homosexual henchman in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 classic North by Northwest, died Saturday of "unexpected complications" after a brief stay at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, his rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

After he quit CBS’ Mission: Impossible after three seasons in 1969 because of a contract dispute, Landau’s career was on the rocks until he was picked by Francis Ford Coppola to play Abe Karatz, the business partner of visionary automaker Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges), in Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988).

Landau received a best supporting actor nomination for that performance, then backed it up the following year with another nom for starring as Judah Rosenthal, an ophthalmologist who has his mistress (Angelica Huston) killed, in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989).

Landau lost out on Oscar night to Kevin Kline and Denzel Washington, respectively, in those years but finally prevailed for his larger-than-life portrayal of horror-movie legend Lugosi in the biopic Ed Wood (1994), directed by Tim Burton.

Landau also starred as Commander John Koenig on the 1970s science-fiction series Space: 1999 opposite his Mission: Impossible co-star Barbara Bain, his wife from 1957 until their divorce in 1993.

A former newspaper cartoonist, Landau turned down the role of Mr. Spock on the NBC series Star Trek, which went to Leonard Nimoy (who later effectively replaced Landau on Mission: Impossible after Trek was canceled).

Landau also was an admired acting teacher who taught the craft to the likes of Jack Nicholson. And in the 1950s, he was best friends with James Dean and, for several months, the boyfriend of Marilyn Monroe. “She could be wonderful, but she was incredibly insecure, to the point she could drive you crazy,” he told The New York Times in 1988.

Landau was born in Brooklyn on June 20, 1928. At age 17, he landed a job as a cartoonist for the New York Daily News, but he turned down a promotion and quit five years later to pursue acting.

“It was an impulsive move on my part to do that,” Landau told The Jewish Journal in 2013. “To become an actor was a dream I must’ve had so deeply and so strongly because I left a lucrative, well-paying job that I could do well to become an unemployed actor. It’s crazy if you think about it. To this day, I can still hear my mother’s voice saying, ‘You did what?!’ ”

 

In 1955, he auditioned for Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio (choosing a scene from Clifford Odets’ Clash by Night against the advice of friends), and he and Steve McQueen were the only new students accepted that year out of the 2,000-plus aspirants who had applied.

With his dark hair and penetrating blue eyes, Landau found success on New York stages in Goat Song, Stalag 17 and First Love. Hitchcock caught his performance on opening night opposite Edward G. Robinson in a road production of Middle of the Night, the first Broadway play written by Paddy Chayefsky, and cast him as the killer Leonard in North by Northwest.

In Middle of the Night, “I played a very macho guy, 180 degrees from Leonard, who I chose to play as a homosexual — very subtly — because he wanted to get rid of Eva Marie Saint with such a vengeance,” he recalled in a 2012 interview.

As the ally of James Mason and nemesis of Saint and Cary Grant, Landau plummets to his death off Mount Rushmore in the movie’s climactic scene. With his slick, sinister gleam and calculating demeanor, he attracted the notice of producers and directors.

He went on to perform for such top directors as Joseph L. Mankiewicz in Cleopatra (1963) — though he said most of his best work on that film was sent to the cutting-room floor — George Stevens in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), John Sturges in The Hallelujah Trail (1965) and Henry Hathaway in Nevada Smith (1966).

Landau met Bruce Geller, the eventual creator of Mission: Impossible, when he invited the writer to an acting class. Bain was in the class as well, and Geller wrote for them the parts of spies Rollin Hand and Cinnamon Carter. Landau earned an Emmy nomination for each of his three seasons on the series.

He could have starred in another series.

“I turned down Star Trek. It would’ve been torturous,” he said during a 2011 edition of the PBS documentary series Pioneers of Television. “I would’ve probably died playing that role. I mean, even the thought of it now upsets me. It was the antithesis of why I became an actor. I mean, to play a character that Lenny (Nimoy) was better suited for, frankly, a guy who speaks in a monotone who never gets excited, never has any guilt, never has any fear or was affected on a visceral level. Who wants to do that?”

Landau found a kindred spirit in Burton, who also cast him in Sleepy Hollow (1999) and as the voice of a Vincent Price-like science teacher in the horror-movie homage, Frankenweenie (2012).

“Tim and I don’t finish a sentence,” Landau told the Los Angeles Times in 2012. “There’s something oddly kinesthetic about it. We kind of understand each other.”

Landau played puppet master Geppetto in a pair of Pinocchio films and appeared in other films including Pork Chop Hill (1959), City Hall (1996), The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998), Rounders (1998), Edtv (1999), The Majestic (2001), Lovely, Still (2008) and Mysteria (2011).

On television, he starred in the Twilight Zone episodes “Mr. Denton on Doomsday” and “The Jeopardy Room,” played the title role in the 1999 Showtime telefilm Bonnano: A Godfather’s Story and could be found on The Untouchables, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Maverick, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Wagon Train, I Spy and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

More recently, Landau earned Emmy noms for playing the father of Anthony LaPaglia’s character on CBS’ Without a Trace and guest-starring as an out-of-touch movie producer on HBO’s Entourage. He portrayed billionaire J. Howard Marshall, the 90-year-old husband of Anna Nicole Smith, in a 2013 Lifetime biopic about the sex symbol, and starred for Atom Egoyan opposite Christopher Plummer in Remember (2015).

And Landau appeared opposite Paul Sorvino in The Last Poker Game, which premiered at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.

Landau worked as director, teacher and executive director at the Actors Studio West. He has been credited with helping to guide the talents of Huston, Warren Oates and Harry Dean Stanton in addition to Nicholson.

A documentary about his life, An Actor's Actor: The Life of Martin Landau, is in the works.

Survivors include his daughters Susie (a writer-producer) and Juliet (an actress-dancer) from his marriage to Bain; sons-in-law Roy and Deverill; sister Elinor; granddaughter Aria; and godson Dylan.

 

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TV series needs a follow up..."Earth Without A Moon". :o

 

RIP Martin Landau :(

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Sorry to bog down on this one comment when I should be focused on Landau's life and career, but ... "homosexual henchman in North by Northwest"? Certainly an interpretation one could reasonably make, given his intense devotion to the James Mason character, but I don't think there's enough there for the Hollywood Reporter to just put that down as indisputable fact.

 

Edit: Reading the entire article, I see Landau himself says "I chose to play the role that way, very subtly," so I guess it's okay.

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Loved him in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS but, being a horror movie fan, really loved him in ED WOOD and I'm glad he won the Oscar for it.

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Sorry to bog down on this one comment when I should be focused on Landau's life and career, but ... "homosexual henchman in North by Northwest"? Certainly an interpretation one could reasonably make, given his intense devotion to the James Mason character, but I don't think there's enough there for the Hollywood Reporter to just put that down as indisputable fact.

 

Edit: Reading the entire article, I see Landau himself says "I chose to play the role that way, very subtly," so I guess it's okay.

Certainly his "Call it my women's intuition" line in NBNW clued us in, but we never took it to mean more than an indictment on his movie character.  Anyway, in those times, I suppose that was the only way they could sneak that aspect of the character into movies without resorting to flagrant cliches.

 

Anyway, just saw him in an old HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL episode over the weekend.  Hmmm....coincidence?  Or....NOT?

 

Sure, one of my favorites from the ever changing IMF crew and delightfully bawdy as Bela Lugosi in ED WOOD, I always get a kick out of seeing Landau in various roles in movies and TV. 

 

A sad loss for sure.

 

 

Sepiatone

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Sorry to bog down on this one comment when I should be focused on Landau's life and career, but ... "homosexual henchman in North by Northwest"? Certainly an interpretation one could reasonably make, given his intense devotion to the James Mason character, but I don't think there's enough there for the Hollywood Reporter to just put that down as indisputable fact.

 

Edit: Reading the entire article, I see Landau himself says "I chose to play the role that way, very subtly," so I guess it's okay.

yeah, I thought that was a unusual observation as well...in fact, it's a stretch. maybe there's a hint that leonard is somewhat jealous of van damm's fondness for eve kendall but there is really no indication that leonard is anything but a ruthless assassin and committed bad guy and he has a wicked sense of humor...

 

"cheers."  :) 

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Sad news. But he lived a long productive life. Many great performances.........

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I really loved him in Ed Wood. He really became Bela Lugosi. "This is the most uncomfortable coffin I've ever been in. Your selection is quite shoddy. You are wasting my time."

 

 

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SPOILER ALERT!

 

Leaving the interpretation of his North by Northwest character aside, boy, he was SO great in Crimes and Misdemeanors, which I'm pretty sure is my favorite Woody Allen movie ever (Alan Alda's blowhard was also great, though a less challenging role). Absolutely consumed by guilt and paranoia. You can just see it crushing him, until ... one day it isn't, and he's happy as a clam. Chilling!

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Here's the TCM Remembers tribute to Landau:

 

 

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