Nationality: American. Born: Brooklyn, New York, 20 June 1928 (some sources say 1931). Family: Married the actress Barbara Bain, 1957 (divorced, 1993), children: Susan Meredith, Juliet Rose. Education: Attended Pratt Institute and the Art Students League; studied for three years at the Actors Studio. Career: Began working as a cartoonist and staff artist for the New York Daily News, late 1940s; appeared on TV series episodes, mid-1950s through mid-1960s; starred as Rollin Hand on the hit TV series Mission: Impossible , 1966–69; starred as Commander John Koenig on the syndicated TV series Space: 1999 , 1975–77; member of the Board of Directors, Actors Studio, and executive director, Actors Studio West. Awards: Best TV Star-Male Golden Globe, for Mission: Impossible , 1968; Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture Golden Globe, for Tucker: A Man and His Dream, 1988; Berlin Film Festival Berlinale Camera, 1990; Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Screen Actors Guild Award, National Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actor, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor, New York Film Critics Circle Best Supporting
Films as Actor:
Pork Chop Hill (Milestone) (as Marshall); North by Northwest (Hitchcock) (as Leonard); The Gazebo (George Marshall) (as the Duke)
Stagecoach to Dancer's Rock (Bellamy) (as Dade Coleman)
Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mankiewicz) (as Rufius)
The Greatest Story Ever Told (Stevens) (as Caiaphas); The Hallelujah Trail (John Sturges) (as Chief Walks-Stooped-Over)
Nevada Smith (Hathaway) (as Jesse Coe)
They Call Me Mr. Tibbs! (Douglas) (as the Rev. Logan Sharpe); Operation Snafu ( Situation Normal All Fouled Up ) (Loy)
A Town Called Hell ( A Town Called Bastard ) (Parrish) (as the Colonel)
Black Gunn (Hartford-Davis) (as Capelli); Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol (McCowan—for TV) (as Captain Johnny Bristol)
Savage (Spielberg—for TV) (as Paul Savage); Destination Moonbase Alpha (Tom Clegg) (as Commander John Koenig)
Tony Saitta ( Tough Tony ; Strange Shadows in an Empty Room ; Blazing Magnums ) (Herbert) (as Dr. George Tracer)
Meteor (Neame) (as General Barry Adlon); The Death of Ocean View Park (Swackhamer—for TV) (as Tom Flood)
The Last Word (Boulting) (as Captain Garrity); Without Warning ( It Came without Warning ) (Greydon Clark) (as Fred Dobbs); The Return ( The Alien's Return ) (Greydon Clark) (as Marshal)
The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (Baldwin—for TV) (as J. J. Pierson)
Alone in the Dark (Sholder) (as Byron "Preacher" Sutcliff); The Fall of the House of Usher (Conway—for TV) (as Roderick Usher)
The Being ( Easter Sunday ) (Kong) (as Garson Jones)
Access Code (Sobel)
Kung Fu: The Movie (Richard Lang—for TV) (as John Martin Perkins III)
Cyclone (Fred Olen Ray) (as Bosarian); Sweet Revenge (Sobel) (as Cicero); Empire State (Peck) (as Chuck); Run If You Can (Virginia Lively Stone); Delta Fever (William Webb) (as Bud); Death Blow (Nussbaum); The Return of the Six-Million-Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman (Ray Austin—for TV) (as Lyle Stenning)
Tucker: The Man and His Dream (Francis Ford Coppola) (as Abe Karatz)
Trust Me (Houston); Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen) (as Judah Rosenthal); Paint It Black (Hunter) (as Daniel Lambert)
Real Bullets (Lindsay); Firehead (Yuval) (as Admiral Pendleton); By Dawn's Early Light (Sholder—for TV) (as the President); Max and Helen (Saville—for TV) (as Simon Wiesenthal)
Tipperary ; The Color of Evening ; Mistress (Primus) (as Jack Roth); Legacy of Lies (May—for TV); Something to Live For: The Alison Gertz Story ( Fatal Love ) (McLoughlin—for TV) (as Jerry Gertz)
Eye of the Stranger (Heavener) (as Mayor Howard Baines); Sliver (Noyce) (as Alex Parsons); No Place to Hide (Danus) (as Frank McCay); 12:01 (Sholder—for TV) (as Dr. Thadius Moxley)
Intersection (Rydell) (as Neal); Ed Wood (Burton) (as Bela Lugosi); Time Is Money (Paolo Barzman) (as Mac)
Joseph (Roger Young—for TV) (as Jacob)
City Hall (Harold Becker) (as Judge Walter Stern); The Adventures of Pinocchio (as Gepetto)
Legend of the Spirit Dog (Goldman, Spence) (as voice of Storyteller); B*A*P*S ( B.A.P.S ) (Townsend) (as Mr. Blakemore); The Long Way Home (Harris) (as voice)
Winter (Nagle); Rounders (Dahl) (as Abe Petrovsky); Steve McQueen: The King of Cool (Katz) (doc) (as himself); The X Files (Bowman) (as Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil)
Sleepy Hollow (Burton) (as Van Garrett); The Joyriders (Battersby) (as Gordon Trout); Edtv (Howard) (as Al); Bonanno: A Godfather's Story (Poulette—for TV) (as Joseph Bonanno); The New Adventures of Pinocchio (Anderson) (as Geppetto); Carlo's Wake (Valerio) (as Carlo Torello)
Ready to Rumble (Robbins) (as Sal); Very Mean Men (Vitale) (as Drunk); Shiner (Irvin)
By LANDAU: articles—
"Alfred Hitchcock ne ma jamais donne qu'un ordre celui d'aimes ce metier," interview with M. Deriez, in Ciné Revue (Brussels), 24 April 1986.
"Landau's Lugosi," interview with Michael Stein, in Outré (Evanston), no. 1, 1994.
"A Mercurial Man Plays Aging, Cranky, and Elegant," interview with Steve Oney, in New York Times , 2 October 1994.
"Interview With the Guy Who Plays the Guy Who Played the Vampire," interview with Robert Seidenberg, in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 21 October 1994.
"Le cas Wood: Entretien avec Martin Landau," interview with Antoine Baecque and Bill Krohn, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), June 1995.
"Ed Wood: La classe du second," interview with Isabelle Danel, in Télérama (Paris), 21 June 1995.
On LANDAU: articles—
Lindsay, R., "Martin Landau Rolls Up in a New Vehicle," in New York Times , 7 August 1988.
McGuigan, Cathleen, "From Heavy to Everyman," in Newsweek (New York), 16 October 1989.
"A Survivor of B-Movie Hell," in New Yorker , 3 April 1995.
Madison, Bob, "Lugosi at the Academy Awards," in Scarlet Street , Summer 1995.
Écran Fantastique (Paris), May-June 1995.
Webster, A., "Filmography," in Premiere (New York), July 1998.
* * *
After appearances in several prestige features—most notably Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest and Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Cleopatra —Martin Landau became a star as Rollin Hand in the hit television series Mission: Impossible . But the actor and his then-wife, Barbara Bain, who co-starred with him on the show, left after two seasons in a contract dispute. Neither of their careers were to recover. For almost two decades, Landau was just another working actor, appearing in seemingly endless low-budget throwaways and such made-for-television fare as The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island .
His renaissance from the industry scrap heap came when he was cast in Francis Coppola's Tucker: The Man and His Dream , which netted Landau critical kudos and an Oscar nomination. He offers an eye-opening performance as Abe Karatz, a New York financier who helps Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges) start up an automobile manufacturing company. Finally, Landau had a movie role worthy of his gift for fleshing out character. His performance is at once entertaining and quite moving; the character of Karatz is at the core of the story, and Landau adds some genuine heart to what is an otherwise slickly made film. Those who had forgotten Landau existed, or had considered him a has-been (or worse, a never-was), had no choice but to acknowledge his talent.
The actor earned further acclaim, and a second Oscar nomination, in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors , a high drama of ethics and morality in contemporary American society. Landau plays Judah Rosenthal, a pillar of his community whose neurotic, possessive mistress (Anjelica Huston) threatens to expose his extramarital activities. Judah feels he has no alternative but to initiate her murder. He at first is horrified by his decision, but soon comes to rationalize the action as being necessary to his survival. And in Tim Burton's Ed Wood , Landau was never better as the aging horror film star Bela Lugosi. He walked off with virtually every critics' prize, along with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, for his beautifully rendered performance.
But perhaps his most revealing late-career role is in Mistress , in which Landau plays a character one senses he knows all too well: Jack Roth, an aging film producer who has come upon an old screenplay written by a movie purist/failed writer (Robert Wuhl). Roth feels that the script is a "knockout," and wants to get it made. But there is a catch: The producer notes that the script "does get heavy in places." It is, after all, about a painter who commits suicide. In order to secure funding for the project, Roth declares that perhaps the suicide part can be deleted—even though the act is the entire point of the story.
Roth is an intriguing character. He takes his meetings not at Le Dome or another A-list eatery but at a glorified diner. He "used to be a big shot at Universal," but blew his career after standing up to his boss in a show of integrity. If the project in question had been a success, Roth might have gotten away with his indiscretion. But it bombed, and for 15 years he has had to "crawl around on my hands and knees to get a couple of bucks for something."
Landau's departure from Mission: Impossible might be contrasted to Jack Roth's indiscretion. Thankfully for Landau, he eventually was able to reestablish himself on the A-list of Hollywood actors—albeit after too many years, and too many bad movies. Post- Ed Wood , he has been a busy actor, appearing in a range of roles. Perhaps his best was in the media satire Edtv , in which he stole his every scene as Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey's ailing stepfather.