MARTIN LANDAU

Date of Birth: June 20, 1931 in Brooklyn, New York. Martin  Landau is 1.9 m (6'3") tall. His hair was dark brown, his eyes blue.Martin's father emigrated from his home, near Salzberg, Austria, when he was 12. Landau himself grew up in a poor, tough neighbourhood of varied European immigrants. He initially studied art at the Pratt Institute and the Art Students League in New York.  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, Martin also taught acting. Some of the actors he has coached include Jack Nicholson and Angelica Huston.  

I'm moody by nature. I hate to accept second best. he confesses.

 
 

Regarded for years as an excellent actor but never the classic "star" type, Landau used his early theatrical training to his advantage by appearing in a number of live television shows being produced in New York in the 1950's. 
Touring a theatre production in the West Coast, Landau caught the eye of casting agents. His second film cast him as a villain in Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest, in which he was shot on top of Mt. Rushmore while sadistically stepping on the fingers of Cary Grant, who was holding on for dear life to the cliff face. He also appeared in the blockbuster Cleopatra (1963), the most expensive film ever made up to that time. 


Landau was one of 2000 applicants who auditioned for Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio in 1955 - only he and Steve McQueen were accepted. Landau was a friend of James Dean and McQueen. .  He was Gene Roddenberry's first choice to play Mr. Spock on "Star Trek", but the role went to Leonard Nimoy, who later replaced Landau on "Mission: Impossible", the show that really made Landau famous. He originally was not meant to be a regular on the series, His character, Rollin Hand, was supposed to make occasional, though recurring appearances, on "Mission: Impossible", but when the producers had problems with star Steven Hill, Landau was used to take up the slack. Landau's characterisation was so well-received and so popular with the audience that he was made a regular. Landau received Emmy nominations as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for each of the three seasons he appeared. In 1968, he won the Golden Globe award as Best Male TV Star.


He soon found himself typecast, but his versatility came in handy when he took the role of "master of disguise" Rollo Hand in TV's Mission Impossible. He married co-star Barbara Bain before leaving the show in 1966. 
Landau's career soon declined into a series of low-budget flops. 
Martin bounced back in 1988 with his Oscar nominated portrayal of Abe Karatz in Tucker: The Man and His Dream. The very next year he was nominated again for his remarkably complex work in Woody Allen's Crimes and  Misdemeanours. In 1994 he finally brought the Oscar home for his touching portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's loving  - Ed Wood. 

He starred in the TV-movie Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol on CBS, playing a prisoner of war returning to the US from Vietnam. The following year he shot a pilot for NBC for a proposed show, "Savage". Though it was directed by  Steven Spielberg, NBC did not pick up the show. Needing work, Landau and His wife Barbara Bain moved to England to play the leading roles in the syndicated science-fiction series "Space: 1999" 

Finally, his career renaissance began to gather momentum when Francis Ford Coppola cast him in the supporting role in his Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), for which Landau was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. He won his second Golden Globe for the role. The next year, he received his second consecutive Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his superb turn as the adulterous husband in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989). 

He portrayed Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's  Ed Wood (1994) and won glowing reviews. For his performance, he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Martin Landau, the superb character actor, finally had been recognized with his profession's ultimate award. His performance, which also won him his third Golden Globe, garnered numerous awards in addition to the Oscar and Golden Globe, including top honours from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critic

 

Martin continued to play a wide variety of roles in motion pictures and on television, turning in a superb performance in a supporting role in The Majestic (2001). He received his fourth Emmy nomination in 2004 as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for "Without a Trace" (2002).


 
He says of Space: 1999 

 

"It was a much better show than people realise. We hit some, we missed some, we tried things." He admits he preferred the first series. "I felt that it would grow. Episodes like the Christopher Lee show [Earthbound], The Black Sun and War Games were ones with ideas and integrity. Freddie Freiberger helped in some respects, but overall I don't think he helped the show. I think he brought a much more ordinary, mundane approach to the series. Space 1999 had a style of its own, a feel of its own, a look of its own, that would have grown if it had been left alone. It needed time and wasn't given that time. They rushed the process. If the format hadn't been changed, I know it would have been a hit." He has said he would have done a third series if it returned to the first season format, 

 

 

Christopher Penfold on Martin Landau: We spent long, long hours into the night at their house in Little Venice, going through the scripts. Both of them took a fantastically close interest in the development of the stories, and they brought their own humanity, their own intelligence to the stories in a way that I was a story editor found tremendously rewarding, they were so fully engaged with the series. 

 

Johnny Byrne on Martin Landau: And it wasn't an egotistical thing, it wasn't a questing around looking for more heroic stuff to perform, it was a genuine and honest integrity about making the scripts better. They were wonderful to work with in that respect, and we were very fortunate. The wrong kind of person in that position, with that kind of power as the leading actor and actress, could have made our lives hell. As it was they helped make good scripts better.

Martin Landau was honoured with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 6801 Hollywood Blvd.