Martin Landau: Mission: Impossible and Ed Wood star dies aged 89

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Martin Landau, versatile film and television star of a number of projects over the past seven decades, has died at the age of 89.

The Oscar-winning actor’s death was confirmed by his publicist Dick Guttman. He had suffered unexpected complications following a hospital visit in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Born in New York, Landau started out as a cartoonist for the New York Daily News before moving to theatre and then cinema acting.

After making a number of television appearances in 50s shows like Maverick (1958) and Rawhide (1959), his cinematic breakthrough came when he played sinister henchman Leonard in the acclaimed Alfred Hitchcock thriller North by Northwest (1959).

Into the 1960s, he then starred in historical epics Cleopatra (1963) and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) before landing the coveted role of Rollin Hand in the hit series Mission: Impossible (1966-69). He received Emmy nominations as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for each of the three seasons he appeared. In 1968, he won the Golden Globe award as Best Male TV Star.

He eventually quit the series in 1969 after a salary dispute and would later be joined by his female co-star and real-life wife Barbara Bain who departed the show shortly after.

The pair then co-starred together in the sci-fi series Space: 1999 (1975-77) before their eventual divorce in 1993.

After a quiet spell in the early 80s, Landau finally gained recognition for his film work as he landed back-to-back Oscar nominations in Best Supporting Actor his roles as car business manager Abe in Francis Ford Coppola’s Tucker: The Man and his Dream (1988) and as troubled ophthalmologist Judah Rosenthal in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanours (1989).

However it would be a case of third time lucky for him in 1995 when he won the Oscar for his role as horror film legend Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s biopic Ed Wood (1994). Landau would later work with Burton again in later projects as the first key victim in the gory Sleepy Hollow (1999) as well as lending his voice to Frankenweenie (2012).

Towards the end of his life, Landau appeared in numerous other film projects which included playing Geppeto in The Adventures of Pinocchio (1996) as well as The X-Files (1998), Hollywood Homicide (2003) and City of Ember (2008).

He also popped up in a few episodes of the hit series Entourage (2006-08) and would later feature in its big-screen outing in 2015.

Landau is survived by two daughters and his ex-wife.

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