RIP Martin Landau: 5 things to know about the legendary actor


Actor Martin Landau passed away July 15 at the age of 89. He was reportedly at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center for a brief stay when he died of “unexpected complications.”

Known for his roles in the “Mission: Impossible” TV series and his Oscar-winning performance in “Ed Wood,” this actor had quite the list of accomplishments.

But, here are some facts you may not have known about the actor:

1. He Was A Cartoonist Before He Was An Actor

Before starting his acting career out with a bang through his role in the “Mission: Impossible” TV series back in the 1950s, Landau was actually a cartoonist.


2. He Turned Down The Role Of Spock In “Star Trek”

Landau had the chance to play the role of Mr. Spock in “Star Trek,” and when he declined, the role went to Leonard Nimoy instead.

“I turned down ‘Star Trek.’ It would’ve been torturous,” he said during a 2011 edition of the PBS documentary series “Pioneers of Television.” “I would’ve probably died playing that role. I mean, even the thought of it now upsets me. It was the antithesis of why I became an actor. I mean, to play a character that Lenny [Nimoy] was better suited for, frankly, a guy who speaks in a monotone who never gets excited, never has any guilt, never has any fear or was affected on a visceral level. Who wants to do that?”


3. He Was Also An Acting Teacher

Landau went on to teach his talents to other aspiring actors. One of his students was Jack Nicholson who once said, “The reason I’m a good actor is because Martin Landau put me through a series of exercises for three years before I could do them.”

4. He Was Good Friends With James Dean

He was friends with James Dean, and alluded to the fact that he understood Dean for the way he really was, not who he was portrayed to be.

“This stuff you hear about Jimmy wanting to die, it was nonsense. There wasn’t anything suicidal about him at all,” he told the New York Times.

“That was a moment in time when the American teenager was expressing his discontent for the first time; young people were beginning to rebel against any authority, and Jimmy and Elvis Presley were the personification of that rebellion,” Landau said. “It was the first time that the American teen-ager had spoken up; it had been a grown-up’s world until that point. And the roles Jimmy played, both on live television and the three films he made, reflected that beat-up kid who wanted to get out there and rebel. What he did was plug himself into the heart of every teen-ager in America.”

5. He Was Married To Barbara Bain

Landau and his “Mission: Impossible” costar Bain were married from 1957-1993 and had two daughters: Susan and Juliet.


Between his acting roles and his teaching, Landau touched the lives of many actors on and off the screen. Because his work went on to effect the millions of people who viewed it, and he formed a special bond with more than just those who had the chance to know him.


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Augusta Statz
I have a B.F.A. in Writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design. I’m an avid writer with a genuine sense of curiosity. I feel the best way to absorb the world around you is through fashion, art and food, so that’s what I spend most of my time writing about.

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