Oscar-winning actor’s career spanned 7 decades on TV, stage and film,
LOS ANGELES— Martin Landau, the chameleon-like actor who gained fame as the crafty master of disguise in the 1960s TV show Mission: Impossible, then capped a long and versatile career with an Oscar for his poignant portrayal of aging horror movie star Bela Lugosi in 1994’s Ed Wood, has died. He was 89.
Landau died Saturday of unexpected complications during a short stay at UCLA Medical Center, 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 Space: 1999 from 1975 to 1977.
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 top-secret mission team’s disguise wizard.
His film career languished for more than a decade, reaching its nadir with his appearance in the 1981 TV movie The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island.
He began to find redemption with a sympathetic role in Tucker: The Man and His Dream, the 1988 Francis Ford Coppola film that garnered Landau his first Oscar nomination.
Mission: Impossible actor Martin Landau, who has been in more than 90 films, died Saturday.