Martin Landau, Jewish actor best known for his breakout role in the TV series “Mission: Impossible” passed away on Saturday at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles at the age of 89.
Landau’s death was unexpected: he was hospitalized for a short time for an undisclosed illness, according to a statement Sunday night by his publicist, Dick Guttman.
Born June 28, 1928 in Brooklyn to a Jewish family, Landau was raised by his parents, Morris and Selma, in the Flatbush neighborhood, in the same area where Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand and Norman Mailer grew up. His father was an immigrant from Austria who tried to save as many Jews as possible from the Holocaust.
Landau attended James Madison High School and the Pratt Institute. At age 17 he began a five-year stint working as a cartoonist for the New York Daily News, and then quit his job to enter the Actors Studio at age 22.
He launched his career as an artist, according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), in 1957 with his Broadway debut in “Middle of the Night.” His first major film appearance with in Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest,” as the character, Leonard.
He won an Oscar for his critically-acclaimed role as Bela Lugosi in the movie, “Ed Wood,” as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Saturn Award for the role.
But it was his role as Rollin Hand in the 1960s series “Mission: Impossible,” that brought him – and his wife, Barbara Bain, who also starred in the series — to the eyes of millions. The couple divorced in 1993. They have two daughters, Susan and Juliet.
According to IMDb, Landau was nominated for Emmy awards for each of the three seasons of the show, and in 1968 he won the Golden Globe for best male TV star.
Landau, who has also taught acting to such luminaries as Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Funeral services were to be private, with a memorial service planned for August or September.