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Oscar Winner Martin Landau Dies at 89

Actor Remembered for His Roles in Alfred Hitchcock's 'North by Northwest,' TV Series 'Mission: Impossible,' and his Oscar Winning Performance in 'Ed Wood'

Martin Landau, one of the original stars of CBS spy drama “Mission: Impossible,” not to mention roles in Alfred Hitchcock thriller “North By Northwest” and his Academy Award winning performance in “Ed Wood,” has died. He was 89 and he passed away of unexpected complications after a brief stay at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Born June 20, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York, Landau attended the Actors Studio, becoming good friends with James Dean and was later in the same class as Steve McQueen. In 1957, he made his Broadway debut in “Middle of the Night.” In 1959, Landau made his first major film appearance in aforementioned “North By Northwest,” and had other notable early roles in “Cleopatra,” “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and “Nevada Smith,” which starred Steve McQueen.

Landau played the role of master of disguise Rollin Hand in “Mission: Impossible” from 1966 to 1969, exiting in a contract dispute along with his then wife and co-star Barbara Bain. In the mid-1970s, Landau and Bain returned to TV in the British science-fiction series “Space: 1999,” which aired for two seasons.

In the late 1980s, Landau earned his first Academy nomination for his role in “Tucker: The Man and His Dream. This was followed by a second nomination, for 1989’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” and later a win for “Ed Wood.”

Landau’s film roles in the 1990s included “Mistress” with Robert DeNiro, “City Hall” with Al Pacino and “Rounders” with Matt Damon.

More recently, Landau earned Emmy nominations for CBS’ “Without a Trace” and guest-starring 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 opposite Christopher Plummer in “Remember” (2015). Landau also appeared opposite Paul Sorvino in “The Last Poker Game,” which premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

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

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Written by Marc Berman

Marc Berman has been writing professionally since 1999 and is the author of weekly column “Mr. Television” for Campaign US ( Most recently, Berman was the creator and Editor-in-Chief of website and newsletter TV Media Insights for Cross MediaWorks. From 1999-2011, he was the Senior Editor for Mediaweek and has also written for The New York Daily News, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Emmy Magazine, among others. Berman has also appeared on “Entertainment Tonight,” “Extra,” “Access Hollywood,” “Inside Edition,” “The CBS Evening News,” E!, CNN, CNBC, Fox News and MSNBC.

2879 posts
  • Patty

    May be rest in peace. Thank you for posting the video clips.

    • My pleasure Patty. Sadly, we lost another great one.

      • Patty

        Yes, indeed.

  • jfmjr

    What a career he had! He will be missed! RIP Martin Landau!

  • diego

    RIP loved you in BAPS and that line somethings are priceless