While most movie fans were still reeling from the death of zombie godfather George A. Romero, another giant of the industry passed away last night, as well. Actor Martin Landau, known for his starring roles in the TV series Mission: Impossible and Space: 1999, as well as his Oscar-winning turn in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, passed away at the age of 89.
Landau started out as a cartoonist before turning his attention to acting, scoring his first role in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 masterpiece, North by Northwest.
In the following decade, he had supporting roles in two major big screen epics, Cleopatra and The Greatest Story Ever Told.
A failed audition for the role of Mr. Spock on Star Trek led to a starring role on Mission: Impossible; ironically, when he left the show in 1969, he was replaced by Spock actor Leonard Nimoy.
In the 1970s, Landau reunited with his Mission: Impossible co-star (and then wife) Barbara Bain for the science-fiction series Space: 1999.
Landau languished in thankless roles for the next decade, appearing in TV movies such as The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island.
In 1988, his career got a boost of adrenaline when he was nominated for an Oscar for his supporting role in Francis Ford Coppola’s Tucker: The Man and His Dream.
The following year, Landau was nominated for another Oscar, this time for the Woody Allen film Crimes and Misdemeanors.
In 1994, Landau finally got his Oscar gold for his supporting role as Dracula star Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s biopic, Ed Wood.
In the years that followed, he played supporting roles in a number of films, such as Rounders, EDtv, The Majestic, and Frankenweenie.
Landau also returned to television with a memorable run of guest appearances on shows like Without a Trace and Entourage.
His final film, ironically titled The Last Poker Game, was released earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival. Landau died Sunday of “unseen complications” after a brief stay at UCLA Medical Center.