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Martin Landau, a Genre Staple for Seven Decades, Has Died

Martin Landau, a Genre Staple for Seven Decades, Has Died

For me, he’ll always be John Koenig from Space: 1999, a show about that time in the now-past when the moon was ripped out of Earth’s orbit and the intrepid crew of its moonbase continued to pilot the dislocated satellite through unknown regions of the cosmos. For you, he might be Bela Lugosi. Or Gepetto. Or Mission: Impossible‘s Rollin Hand. To Gene Roddenberry, he was nearly Mr. Spock. As a voice-actor, he was Scorpion in the 1995 Spider-Man cartoon. And while he’s an Oscar winner (and multi-time nominee), he also has on his resume such “masterpieces” of TV schlock as The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island and The Return of the Six Million-Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman. Martin Landau, in short, was everything.

(NSFW audio below…)

Landau began as a cartoonist, but was accepted into the Lee Strasberg Actor’s Studio in 1955 alongside Steve McQueen. Like many other actors of the ’50s, he can be seen in many old TV western episodes, but he went on to work with the likes of Hitchcock (in North by Northwest) and Coppola (Tucker: The Man and His Dream). He could do it all: this was a man who could go from playing president Woodrow Wilson to being a series regular on Entourage. That didn’t necessarily mean his appearance in something guaranteed it would be a great product, but you’d always know it had at least one reliable, quality ingredient.

Landau loved acting more than anything, and felt he had learned so much about it that he wanted to give something back, so he became a teacher himself. But you didn’t necessarily have to take the lessons to learn from him; merely watching him onscreen was a master class in how to work with whatever you’re given.

If there’s life beyond this one, here’s hoping Bela Lugosi appreciates how Landau made him seem that way too.

Image: ITV

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