Monday, July 17, 2017
Very sad news over the weekend...
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.
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.
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. He was nominated again the next year for his turn as the adulterous husband in Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors." His third nomination was for Ed Wood, director Tim Burton's affectionate tribute to a man widely viewed as the worst Hollywood filmmaker of all time.
"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.
He has certainly done a lot of great work over the years. But, for me, I'll remember him most from playing Commander Koenig on Space 1999. It is one of my favorite Sci-fi shows and I never missed an episode.
He will be missed.