Martin Landau was an American film and television actor.
Let’s see some fun facts about him!
1. Martin Landau was born June 20, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York.
2. He was the son of Selma (née Buchman) and Morris Landau.
3. His family was Jewish; his father, an Austrian-born machinist, scrambled to rescue relatives from the Nazis.
4. He attended James Madison High School and the Pratt Institute.
5. At the age of seventeen he found work at the New York Daily News, where he spent the next five years as an editorial cartoonist and worked alongside Gus Edson to produce the comic strip, The Gumps. He quit the Daily News when he was 22 to concentrate on theater acting.
6. After auditioning for the Actors Studio in 1955, he and Steve McQueen were the only applicants admitted out of 500 that applied. While there, he trained under Lee Strasberg, Elia Kazan and Harold Clurman, and eventually became an executive director with the Studio, along with Mark Rydell and Sydney Pollack.
7. Influenced by Charlie Chaplin and the escapism of the cinema, Landau pursued an acting career.
8. He attended the Actors Studio, becoming good friends with James Dean. He recalled, “James Dean was my best friend. We were two young would-be and still-yet-to-work unemployed actors, dreaming out loud and enjoying every moment… We’d spend lots of time talking about the future, our craft and our chances of success in this newly different, ever-changing modern world we were living in.” He was also in the same class as Steve McQueen.
9. In 1957, he made his Broadway debut in Middle of the Night. Landau made his first major film appearance in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959) as Leonard, the right-hand man of a criminal played by James Mason.
10. He had featured roles in two 1960s epics, Cleopatra (1963) and The Greatest Story Ever Told, and played a ruthless killer in the western Nevada Smith (both 1965), which starred Steve McQueen.
11. He played regular roles in the television series Mission: Impossible (for which he received several Emmy Award nominations and a Golden Globe Award) and Space: 1999.
12. Landau received the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, as well as his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for his role in Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988); he received his second Oscar nomination for his appearance in Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989).
13. His performance in the supporting role of Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood (1994) earned him an Academy Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe Award.
14. He continued to perform in film and TV, and headed the Hollywood branch of the Actors Studio until his death.
15. Landau had two daughters, Susan and Juliet, from his marriage to actress and former co-star Barbara Bain. They married on January 31, 1957, and divorced in 1993.
16. Landau died at the age of 89 at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, on July 15, 2017; he had been briefly hospitalized and, according to his representative, died of “complications”.