Martin Landau


Actor
Martin Landau

About

Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
June 20, 1928

Biography

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 precari...

Family & Companions

Barbara Bain
Wife
Actor. Married January 31, 1957, divorced; co-starred on the TV series "Mission: Impossible" and "Space: 1999"; both quit the former together over contract dispute.
Gretchen Becker
Companion
Actor, veterinarian, former all-American basketball player. Born c. 1964; played small role in "Ed Wood" (1994); no longer together.

Notes

"There was a ten-year period where everything I did was bad. I'd like to go back and turn all those films into guitar picks. I can't even remember most of the titles. I played a lot of heavies, one-dimensional rubbish. No, I wasn't driving a cab, and yes, I was better off than many people. But I was working for directors who didn't know anything about acting and stories. They only cared about car chases and explosions. I'm lucky I kept my sanity. It wasn't pleasant." --Martin Landau, quoted in The New York Times October 2, 1994.

Landau has also wons awards including the Belgian Viewers Best Actor Award, the Brazilian Saci Award and Germany's Bravo Award.

Biography

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.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

The Last Poker Game (2017)
Remember (2016)
Entourage (2015)
Outlaw Prophet: Warren Jeffs (2014)
Anna Nicole (2013)
Frankenweenie (2012)
Voice
Ivory (2012)
Young Picasso (2012)
Mitch Albom's Have a Little Faith (2011)
Lovely, Still (2010)
Teenage Paparazzi (2010)
9 (2009)
Voice
Harrison Montgomery (2009)
Billy: The Early Years (2008)
David & Fatima (2008)
City of Ember (2008)
The Aryan Couple (2004)
Joseph Krauzenberg
Wake (2004)
The Commission (2003)
Hollywood Homicide (2003)
The New Adventures of Pinocchio (2002)
Geppetto
Shanghai Ghetto (2002)
Narrator
The Majestic (2001)
Shiner (2000)
Frank Spedding
Destination Hitchcock: The Making of North by Northwest (2000)
Very Mean Men (2000)
Mr White
Ready to Rumble (2000)
The Joyriders (1999)
Ed TV (1999)
Bonanno: Youngest Godfather (1999)
Rounders (1998)
Abe Petrovsky
The X-Files (1998)
Legend of the Spirit Dog (1997)
B.A.P.S. (1997)
The Long Way Home (1997)
Voice
City Hall (1996)
Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's (1996)
Himself
The Adventures of Pinocchio (1996)
Geppetto
Inside the Academy Awards '95 (1995)
Performer
Intersection (1994)
Neal
Time Is Money (1994)
Ed Wood (1994)
Sliver (1993)
No Place To Hide (1993)
12:01 (1993)
Frame By Frame (1993)
Eye of the Stranger (1993)
Mayor Howard Baines
Fatal Love (1992)
Legacy of Lies (1992)
Mistress (1992)
L'Oeil de la Veuve (1991)
Treasure Island (1991)
Old Captain
Firehead (1991)
Admiral Pendleton
The Color of Evening (1991)
By Dawn's Early Light (1990)
Real Bullets (1990)
Max And Helen (1990)
Simon Wiesenthal
Crimes And Misdemeanors (1989)
Paint It Black (1989)
Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)
Empire State (1988)
Chuck
Cyclone (1987)
Bosarian
Sweet Revenge (1987)
Cicero
Delta Fever (1987)
The Return of the Six-Million-Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (1987)
W.A.R. Women Against Rape (1987)
Kung Fu: The Movie (1986)
The Being (1983)
Garson Jones
The Fall of the House of Usher (1982)
Roderick Usher
The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (1981)
Without Warning (1980)
Fred
Death of Ocean View Park (1979)
Meteor (1979)
The Last Word (1979)
Captain Garrity
Strange Shadows in an Empty Room (1976)
Doctor
Savage (1973)
Paul Savage
Black Gunn (1972)
[Russ] Capelli
Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol (1972)
Captain Johnny Bristol
A Town Called Hell (1971)
They Call Me MISTER Tibbs (1970)
Rev. Logan Sharpe
Nevada Smith (1966)
Jesse Coe
The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)
Caiaphas
The Hallelujah Trail (1965)
Chief Walks-Stooped-Over
Cleopatra (1963)
Rufio
Stagecoach to Dancers' Rock (1962)
Dade Coleman
The Gazebo (1960)
The Duke
Pork Chop Hill (1959)
Lt. Marshall
North by Northwest (1959)
Leonard

Special Thanks (Feature Film)

The Long Way Home (1997)
Special Thanks To

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's (1996)
Other

Cast (Special)

Night at the Movies, A: The Suspenseful World of Thrillers (2009)
Brando (Part 1) (2007)
Himself
Brando (Part 2) (2007)
Himself
Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2004)
Himself
Playboy's 50th Anniversary Special (2003)
Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood (2001)
Tim Burton: Trick or Treat (2001)
Outer Limits Farewell Tribute (2000)
The AFI's 100 Years... 100 Stars (1999)
Lee Strasberg: The Method Man (1998)
Elizabeth Taylor: The E! True Hollywood Story (1998)
Steve McQueen: King of Cool (1998)
Intimate Portrait: Halle Berry (1998)
Narrator
The X-Files Movie Special (1998)
The 70th Annual Academy Awards (1998)
Performer
Merry Christmas, George Bailey (1997)
Peter Graves: Mission Accomplished (1997)
Interviewee
Family Film Awards (1996)
Presenter
The 53rd Annual Golden Globe Awards (1996)
Presenter
The 68th Annual Academy Awards (1996)
Presenter
The 22nd Annual People's Choice Awards (1996)
Presenter
Bela Lugosi: Hollywood's Dark Prince (1995)
Interviewee
The 21st Annual People's Choice Awards (1995)
Presenter
The Golden Globe's 50th Anniversary Celebration (1994)
Visitors From the Unknown (1992)
Narrator
Secrets of the Unknown (1991)
Narrator
Starathon '90 (1990)
47th Annual Golden Globes (1989)
Performer
The Screen Actors Guild 50th Anniversary Celebration (1984)

Cast (Short)

Dining with Brando (2007)
Himself

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

The Desilu Story: The Rags to Riches Success of the Desilu Empire (2003)
Haven (2001)
In the Beginning (2000)
The Elevator (1999)
Bonanno: A Godfather's Story (1999)
Joseph (1995)
The Neon Empire (1989)

Life Events

1951

First appearance in an off-Broadway play, "First Love"

1951

Made stage debut in "Detective Story" at the Peaks Island Playhouse in Maine

1955

Auditioned for Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio; was accepted with fellow student Steve McQueen

1957

Acted in the touring company of "Middle of the Night"

1959

Made film debut in "Pork Chop Hill"

1959

Made first major film appearance in Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest"

1963

Appeared on two episodes of ABC anthology series "The Outer Limits"

1966

Played Rollin Hand on CBS adventure series "Mission: Impossible"; acted opposite wife Barbara Bain; received Emmy nominations for all three years

1968

Reprised role from the series in the feature "Mission Impossible vs. The Mob"

1972

Played a prisoner of war returning from Vietnam in CBS TV-movie "Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol"

1973

Directed by Steven Spielberg on busted NBC series pilot "Savage"

1975

Played lead role of John Koenig on British series "Space 1999"; again co-starred with then-wife Barbara Bain

1976

First film in four years, "Strange Shadows in an Empty Room"

1981

Last acting credit opposite Barbara Bain, "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island"

1983

Guest starred on the NBC sitcom "Buffalo Bill"

1983

Played lead in low-budget horror feature "The Being"

1987

Returned to film with "W.A.R. Women Against Rape"

1988

Received an Academy Award nomination for his role in "Tucker: The Man and His Dream"

1989

First TV miniseries, "The Neon Empire" (Showtime)

1989

Earned second Academy Award nomination as the adulterous husband in Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors"

1990

Cast as the U.S. President in the HBO original "By Dawn's Early Light"

1990

Portrayed Simon Wiesenthal in the based-on-fact TNT movie "Max and Helen"

1992

Co-starred in the feature "Mistress"

1994

Portrayed screen horror icon Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's biopic "Ed Wood"

1995

Appeared in the TNT biblical miniseries "Joseph"

1996

Played Geppetto in the feature "The Adventures of Pinocchio"

1997

Cast as a sickly millionaire who ends up being cared for by two waitresses in "B.A.P.S."

1998

Co-starred in "Rounders" opposite Matt Damon

1999

Played the titular character as an older adult in the Showtime miniseries "Bonanno: A Godfather's Story"

2000

Made executive producing debut with "Prank"

2001

Had pivotal supporting role in "The Majestic"

2001

Received star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

2003

Featured in the buddy cop flick "Hollywood Homicide" with Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett

2004

Guest starred on several episodes of "Without a Trace" (CBS), received Emmy nominations in 2004 and 2005

2004

Co-starred with Judy Parfitt, as a Jewish couple trying to escape Nazi Germany in "The Aryan Couple"

2006

Received Emmy nomination for his role as an old-school producer on HBO series "Entourage"

2009

Lent his voice to the feature-length adaptation of Shane Acker's short "9"

2012

Reunited with director Tim Burton to voice Mr. Rzykruski in animated film "Frankenweenie"

2013

Appeared in Lifetime TV movie "Anna Nicole"

2015

Reprised Bob Ryan role in "Entourage" film

2017

Appeared in final film released during his lifetime, "The Last Poker Game"

2017

Final credited role in the posthumous sci-fi drama "Without Ward"

Videos

Movie Clip

Alone In The Dark (1982) - I'll Have The Usual Outlandish enough opening from director Jack Sholder (now a professor at Western Carolina University), has Martin Landau dropping in at a diner, meeting the proprietor (Dorothy James) and a customer (Robert Pastner), then Donald Pleasence, before some resolution, in the cult-horror favorite Alone In The Dark, 1982.
Nevada Smith (1966) - There Ain't No Gold Intense cruelty from big actors (Martin Landau, Arthur Kennedy, Karl Malden) as bandits assaulting the parents of Max Sand (Steve McQueen) who arrives too late, in Nevada Smith (1966), directed by Henry Hathaway.
Nevada Smith (1966) - He's Ridin' My Father's Horse Martin Landau features, one of three who killed the parents of novice gunman Steve McQueen, the part-Indian title character, found in a Western saloon, a bartender (Bud Cokes) briefly intervening, in producer-director Henry Hathaway’s Nevada Smith, 1966, based on a character in Harold Robbins’ The Carpetbaggers.
North By Northwest (1959) - More Polished Than The Others Snatched from a Manhattan restaurant to a Long Island mansion, Thornhill (Cary Grant) is interrogated by James Mason, whom he presumes is Townsend, and who insists he must be Kaplan, with henchman Martin Landau, nothing clear, in Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest, 1959.
Meteor (1979) - I'll Take The Pretty One Bradley (Sean Connery) managing the crisis with Sir Michael (Trevor Howard), Sherwood (Karl Malden) and General Adlon (Martin Landau) in support, as Russians Dubov (Brian Keith) and Tatiana (Natalie Wood, her first appearance in her last movie) finally appear, in Meteor, 1979.

Trailer

Family

Morris Landau
Father
Machinist in garment industry. Immigrant.
Selma Landau
Mother
Susan Meredith Landau
Daughter
Producer. Born c. 1965; produced "The Spirit of '76" (1990); mother Barbara Bain.
Juliet Rose Landau
Daughter
Actor. Mother Barbara Bain; born c. 1970; appeared in "Ed Wood" (1994).

Companions

Barbara Bain
Wife
Actor. Married January 31, 1957, divorced; co-starred on the TV series "Mission: Impossible" and "Space: 1999"; both quit the former together over contract dispute.
Gretchen Becker
Companion
Actor, veterinarian, former all-American basketball player. Born c. 1964; played small role in "Ed Wood" (1994); no longer together.

Bibliography

Notes

"There was a ten-year period where everything I did was bad. I'd like to go back and turn all those films into guitar picks. I can't even remember most of the titles. I played a lot of heavies, one-dimensional rubbish. No, I wasn't driving a cab, and yes, I was better off than many people. But I was working for directors who didn't know anything about acting and stories. They only cared about car chases and explosions. I'm lucky I kept my sanity. It wasn't pleasant." --Martin Landau, quoted in The New York Times October 2, 1994.

Landau has also wons awards including the Belgian Viewers Best Actor Award, the Brazilian Saci Award and Germany's Bravo Award.