1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

'Mission: Impossible' star Martin Landau dies, aged 89

July 17, 2017

Veteran actor Martin Landau, whose versatile screen career stretched from the 1960s TV series "Mission: Impossible" to his Oscar-winning turn as Bela Lugosi in "Ed Wood," has died in Los Angeles.

Martin Landau
Image: Picture alliance/Zumapress/Focus Features

The film world is mourning the death of the one of the great character actors, Martin Landau, who passed away in Los Angeles after a short illness.

"We are overcome with sadness to report the death of iconic actor Martin Landau," said his publicist in a statement. "He had just celebrated his 89th birthday."

Screenwriter Joss Whedon said Landau's performance as a philandering eye doctor in Woody Allen's 1989 "Crimes and Misdemeanors" was "perfect."

"RIP Martin Landau," he added on Twitter.

Learning his craft in Lee Strasberg's esteemed Actors Studio alongside Steve McQueen, Landau got his start on Broadway in the 1950s before a 1959 film debut in Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller "North by Northwest."

His film roles ranged from the grand to the quirky, from "Cleopatra" to "The Greatest Story Ever Told."

That was before he met with massive success playing the master of disguise Rollin Hand in the "Mission: Impossible" TV series. He was nominated for three Emmys and a Golden Globe in 1968.

Film Mission Impossible - 1966
Landau (far right) with the cast of "Mission: Impossible," 1966Image: picture alliance/Captital Pictures

Landau later received Oscar nominations for his turn in Francis Ford Coppola's 1988 film, "Tucker: The Man and His Dream," and Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors" the following year.

In 1994 he finally won an Oscar, receiving a best supporting actor award for his portrayal of aging horror film star Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's "Ed Wood" - for which he also won a Golden Globe. 

In recent years, Landau starred on television hits "Entourage" and "Without a Trace."

Of Jewish heritage, Landau received the Israel Film Festival's Career Achievement Award in 2013.

sb/kbm (AFP, dpa)