Martin Landau, Oscar victor and 'Mission: Impossible' star, dies at 89

Ed Wood and Mission Impossible star Martin Landau dead aged 89

The actor was born in Brooklyn in 1928 he won an Oscar for a supporting role for having interpreted Bela Lugosi in the film "Ed Wood" by Tim Burton in 1994.

According to a statement made by Landau's reps, the actor died following "unexpected complications during a short hospitalization" at the UCLA Medical Center on Saturday afternoon.

Landau got his start on Broadway in the 1950s, before a 1959 film debut in Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller "North by Northwest".

It wasn't until decades later when he was cast as financier Abe Karatz, the partner to the titular automaker Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges) in Francis Ford Coppola's 1987 biopic Tucker: The Man and His Dream, that Landau had a late-career breakthrough.

He was nominated again the next year for his turn as the adulterous husband in Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors". "Before that I did several films that should be turned into toothpicks. Or I was getting up to bat and no one was pitching to me". Landau's career went into decline although he never stopped working.

A con artist at times, or a pickpocket, thug or other lowlife, Landau's Hand, the possessor of sleight of hand and various accents, also impersonated a bookseller, doctor, photographer or public prosecutor. His performance as the washed-up horror icon Bela Lugosi struck a chord with him and audiences, and remains one of his most memorable performances to date. Landau also appeared regularly on popular TV programs including "The Twilight Zone", "The Untouchables", "I Spy", "The Wild, Wild West" and many others. "I've seen it happen to me".

Before he became an actor, he was a cartoonist for the New York Daily News. Roles in epic films such as "Cleopatra" and "The Greatest Story Ever Told" followed. In 1968, Landautook the Golden Globe award as best male television star. He was "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry's first pick to portray pointy-eared Vulcan Mr. Spock, an iconic role that eventually went to Leonard Nimoy.

"It's impossible to overestimate the job that Landau does here as this sepulchral Hungarian", Washington Post critic Hal Hinson wrote in his review of the 1994 film.

That 1995 Golden Globe Award, his second for best supporting actor in a movie, trailed one for his role as an emigre financier in the story about a maverick vehicle designer, "Tucker: The Man and His Dream" (1989). But his career and performances were far from workmanlike: Landau made his mark on Hollywood early, and sustained and expanded it through intense dedication and preparation. He is survived by his daughters Susie Landau Finch and Juliet Landau, and his granddaughter Aria Isabel Landau.

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