Farewell to le­gends



EVEN AS a lowly Co­manchero dur­ing a guest ap­pear­ance in an early episode of the clas­sic TV west­ern “Bo­nanza,” ac­tor Martin Lan­dau was eas­ily the best per­former on the screen.

Lan­dau, who gained fame as a mem­ber of the dar­ing spy team in “Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble,” and won an Academy Award in 1994’s “Ed Wood,” died Satur­day. He was 89.

His pub­li­cist said Lan­dau died af­ter un­ex­pected com­pli­ca­tions dur­ing a short stay at UCLA Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

Though he is best re­mem­bered for sup­port­ing roles that an­chored a long list of movies, in­clud­ing “Cleopa­tra,” “The Great­est Story Ever Told” and “Crimes and Mis­de­meanors,” the Brook­lyn-born Lan­dau ac­tu­ally be­gan his ca­reer at the Daily News as a staff car­toon­ist and il­lus­tra­tor when he was just 17.

He quit The News five years later to pur­sue his act­ing ca­reer. In 1955, Lan­dau was among hun­dreds who ap­plied to study at the pres­ti­gious Ac­tors Stu­dio and one of only two peo­ple se­lected. The other was Steve McQueen.

In 1957, Lan­dau made his de­bute on Broad­way in “Mid­dle of the Night,” and in 1959 he made his first movie ap­pear­ance in 1959 in Al­fred Hitch­cock’s thriller “North by North­west.”

Lan­dau was still an up-andcom­ing ac­tor when he met and mar­ried ac­tress Bar­bara Bain. The cou­ple went on to star to­gether in “Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble,” where he played mas­ter-of-dis­guise Rollin Hand, only to leave to­gether af­ter Sea­son 3 in a con­tract dis­pute.

Lan­dau and Bain also costarred in the Bri­tish-made sci-fi se­ries “Space: 1999.”

Lan­dau turned down the iconic role of Mr. Spock in the cult clas­sic “Star Trek.” In a twist, Spock por­trayer Leonard Ni­moy replaced Lan­dau when he left “Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble.”

Lan­dau re­ceived Academy Award nom­i­na­tions for his roles in Fran­cis Ford Cop­pola’s “Tucker: The Man and His Dream” (1988) and Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Mis­de­meanors” (1989).

He fi­nally won the big prize for his sup­port­ing turn in Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood,” where he por­trayed ag­ing hor­ror film star Bela Lu­gosi.

“There was a 10-year pe­riod when every­thing I did was bad. I’d like to go back and turn all those films into gui­tar picks,” Lan­dau said af­ter ac­cept­ing his Os­car.

More re­cently, he played an Auschwitz sur­vivor in the 2015 movie “Re­mem­ber,” which costarred Christo­pher Plum­mer. His up­com­ing movie, “The Last Poker Game,” pre­miered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Fes­ti­val.

Lan­dau had also re­turned to TV in the 2000s for roles in “With­out a Trace” and “En­tourage.”

“So sad to read about the pass­ing of Martin Lan­dau,” tweeted ac­tress Mar­lee Matlin. “A great tal­ent with a kind heart; al­ways so warm to me. I will miss you. RIP.”

Lan­dau and Bain, who is 85, had two daugh­ters, Su­san and Juliet. They di­vorced in 1993.

Ge­orge Romero Martin Lan­dau

Bob Wolff

Martin Lan­dau (left, in April) started out as a Daily News artist (above, in 1951) be­fore becoming an ac­tor. Top right, he stars as Bela Lu­gosi with Johnny Depp in 1994’s “Ed Wood,” which won him an Os­car (in­set, cen­ter).

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