Born for Im­pos­si­ble role

Townsville Bulletin - - CLASSIFIEDS -

MARTIN Landau was the chameleon- like ac­tor who gained fame as the crafty mas­ter of dis­guise in the 1960s TV show Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble.

He then capped a long and ver­sa­tile ca­reer with an Os­car for his poignant por­trayal of age­ing hor­ror movie star Bela Lu­gosi in 1994’ s Ed Wood.

Landau died on Satur­day at the age of 89 of un­ex­pected com­pli­ca­tions dur­ing a short stay at UCLA Med­i­cal Cen­tre, his pub­li­cist Dick Guttman said.

Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble, which also starred Landau’s wife, Bar­bara Bain, be­came an im­me­di­ate hit upon its de­but in 1966. It re­mained on the air un­til 1973, but Landau and Bain left at the end of the show’s third sea­son amid a fi­nan­cial dis­pute with the pro­duc­ers. They starred in the Bri­tish- made sci- fi se­ries

from 1975 to 1977.

Landau might have been a su­per­star but for a role he didn’t play — the pointyeared star­ship En­ter­prise sci­ence of­fi­cer Mr Spock. Star Trek cre­ator Gene Ro­den­berry had of­fered him the half- Vul­can, half- hu­man who at­tempts to rid his life of all emo­tion. Landau turned it down. “A char­ac­ter with­out emo­tions would have driven me crazy; I would have had to be lobotomised,” he ex­plained in 2001. In­stead, he chose Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble, and Leonard Ni­moy went on to ev­er­last­ing fame as Spock.

Iron­i­cally, Ni­moy re­placed Landau on Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble. Af­ter a brief but im­pres­sive Broad­way ca­reer, Landau had made an aus­pi­cious film de­but in the late 1950s, play­ing a sol­dier in Pork Chop Hill and a vil­lain in the Al­fred Hitch­cock clas­sic North By North­west. He en­joyed far less suc­cess af­ter Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble, how­ever, find­ing he had been type­cast as Rollin Hand, the topse­cret mis­sion team’s dis­guise wizard.

His Os­car- win­ning role came for Ed Wood, di­rec­tor Tim Bur­ton’s af­fec­tion­ate trib­ute to a man viewed as the worst Hol­ly­wood film­maker of all time.

In Ed Wood, he por­trayed Lu­gosi dur­ing his fi­nal years, when the Hun­gar­ian- born ac­tor who had be­come fa­mous as Count Drac­ula was ill, ad­dicted to drugs and forced to make films with Ed Wood just to pay his bills. A gifted mimic, Landau thor­oughly re­searched the role watch­ing about 35 Lu­gosi films to get the role per­fect.

Landau and Bain had two daugh­ters, Su­san and Juliet.

Would you like an obit­u­ary writ­ten about your loved one? Con­tact Chris Sil­vini on 4722 4427 for con­sid­er­a­tion.

OS­CAR WIN­NER: Ac­tor Martin Landau died in hospi­tal on Satur­day. Pic­ture: AFP

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