Iconic Actor Martin Landau Has Passed Away at 89

George Romero waves a terrible towel at a Pittsburgh Steelers game against the Baltimore Ravens

George Romero waves a terrible towel at a Pittsburgh Steelers game against the Baltimore Ravens

Oscar-winning character actor Martin Landau died Saturday, his publicist has confirmed.

That was the role that finally won Landau his Oscar in 1994: the foul-mouthed, morphine-addicted Bela Lugosi in Burton's cracked biopic. He later spent a couple of years starring in syndicated sci-fi series "Space: 1999", on which, as with "Mission: Impossible", he co-starred with then-wife Barbara Bain.

"When I was growing up, every impressionist did bad Bela Lugosi imitations - "I want to drink your blood" - and I realized this was a field with tiger traps throughout", Landau told critic Roger Ebert, "and I had to walk carefully".

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The Brooklyn-born actor was best known for playing secret agent Rollin Hand in the original Mission: Impossible TV series, which he starred in from 1966 to 1969.

He won his first Oscar nomination for his role in Francis Ford Coppola's 1988 film Tucker: The Man And His Dream. He continued to perform in film and TV, and headed the Hollywood branch of the Actors Studio until his death. Speaking in 2011, Landau spoke of this role.

Four years later, Landau landed his breakout role as a henchman in Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 classic North by Northwest, with Landau later revealing he "played the character gay", a decision that Hitchcock "loved".

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"I had tea with Mr Hitchcock one afternoon and asked him how he could have cast me in that part, because what I was playing in [the play] Middle of the Night was so different", Landau told the Los Angeles Times previous year. On the big screen, he appeared in the likes of Cleopatra, The Call Me Mr. Tibbs!, Rounders, Sleepy Hollow, The Majestic and Frankenweenie.

Following a brief tenure as a newspaper cartoonist and illustrator in his late teens and early 20s, Landau transitioned into acting, training at the Actors Studio with Strasberg and doing theater work, including the national tour of Middle of the Night. Most recently he appeared in "The Last Poker Game" with Paul Sorvino, which screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, and in "Remember" for director Atom Egoyan. They divorced in 1993 and had two children together. Landau is survived by his daughters Susie Landau Finch, Juliet Landau, and his granddaughter Aria Isabel Landau.

He'd done some television before, and shot a small part in Lewis Milestone's Korean War picture Pork Chop Hill, but the Hitchcock film made people take notice; after that, he booked gig after gig.

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