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Remembering Martin Landau (June 20, 1928 – July 15, 2017)

Updated on February 2, 2021
Rachelle Williams profile image

I'm Rachelle, a.k.a "TheMotleyChick," a lover of eclectic but ordinary people, situations, and topics. I love sharing helpful resources.

Martin Landau & Barbara Bain | Space: 1999
Martin Landau & Barbara Bain | Space: 1999 | Source

Martin Landau was born on June 20, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York to a Jewish family with relatives murdered by the Nazis. Landau's father, was a machinist who attempted to rescue his family members from the Nazis.

Later in Landau's career, he starred in a film called Remember (2015), where he played the role of an elderly man who sends a friend, who suffers from dementia, on a cross-country search to find the Auschwitz block sergeant who killed both their families.

The story is gripping, and leaves a lasting impression, especially when you realize Landau must have had strong personal reasons for embarking upon such a project, Remember (2015), also stars veteran actor, Christopher Plummer.

Early on in his career, Landau auditioned for the Actors Studio, along with 500 other hopeful applicants. He and legendary actor Steve McQueen - then a young unknown actor - were the only two thespians chosen. There, he studied under the direction of revered classic film director, Elia Kazan, and legendary acting coach, Lee Strasberg.

His time at the Actors Studio led to lifelong friendships with movie idol James Dean, and the aforementioned Steve McQueen. Later on in the late 1950s, he went on to make his Broadway debut in Middle of the Night, and in such major films as North by Northwest (1959), Cleopatra (1963), The Greatest Story Every Told (1965).

Mission: Impossible came along in 1966, and there he was given the chance to showcase his versatility as he played the role of master of disguise, Rollin Hand. He costarred with actress Barbara Bain, who was his wife at the time.

Landau and Bain would go on to star in another TV series together in the 1970s, Space 1999.. In the show, Landau played Commander of Moonbase Alpha, John Koenig. Although Space 1999 was never a massive hit, it made a considerable splash amongst sci-fi lovers, and it is a fan favorite.

In the 1980s, Landau went on to roles in Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), and Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), then in 1994, he portrayed the role of classic horror film star, Bela Lugosi in the movie, Ed Wood (1884), this was the role that won him the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Landau kept constantly busy throughout the remaining years of his career, even garnering an Emmy award nominated appearance in the HBO series Entourage. He and Barbra Bain divorced in 1993, after 40 years of marriage, and he never remairried, the couple had two children.

Martin Landau died of massive internal bleeding, after suffering a heart attack on July 15, 2017 in Los Angeles. Landau has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6841 Hollywood Boulevard, and a place in the hearts of many fans who remember him fondly.

Martin Landau in 2013
Martin Landau in 2013 | Source

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