Ed Wood & North by Northwest actor Martin Landau has passed away at 89

In yet another piece of sad news today, legendary actor Martin Landau has died at the age of 89. His death came as a result of “unexpected complications” after a short stay at Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center, a source was able to confirm to THR.

Landau established himself as one of the most accomplished and versatile actors around, with a film career that goes back to 1958, breaking onto the scene in the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece, NORTH BY NORTHWEST.  He would later star in CLEOPATRA with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD with Max von Sydow, and later the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE TV series. As well, he famously turned down the role of Spock on the original STAR TREK series, a role that would go to Leonard Nimoy. He didn’t regret turning down the role, saying back in 2011 to PBS that he “probably would’ve died playing that role,” finding the emotionless state of Spock too unfulfilling as an actor.

The actor’s storied career goes back even further than his movie days. He got a job at 17 as a cartoonist for the Daily News, but quit five years later to pursue acting, having been inspired by the work of Charlie Chaplin. He would later audition for the Acting Studio where he became friends with James Dean and took classes with Steve McQueen. He later made his Broadway debut in “Middle of the Night” the same year he did NORTH.

His most recognized role didn’t come until 1994 when at the age of 66 he played Bela Lugosi in the Tim Burton film – ED WOOD. Landau received rave reviews for his performance and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He was nominated in previous years, including for Francis Ford Coppola’s TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM in 1988 and Woody Allen’s CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS in 1989.

Landau would continue working hard in movies and TV into the new millennium, with roles in movies like Burton’s FRANKENWEENIE, THE MAJESTIC, HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE and 9. He also taught acting over the decades, with Jack Nicholson having been among his students. As well, he was the head of the Hollywood branch of the Acting Studio up until his death.

The accomplished and brilliant Landau had an immense body of work to be proud of, and for me, as well as many others, the role he will be remembered most for was as Lugosi in WOOD. He played the man with such vigor and hilarity, showing a side of the DRACULA actor few knew existed. With every sudden burst of angry, comic genius there is a moment of tragic sadness, as Landau captured so perfectly the plight of a dying star cursed with drug addiction. It’s a marvelous piece of work, and one I enjoy relishing even to this day.

Source: TMZTHR



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