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Martin Landau has died at the age of 89

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Martin Landau, star of the TV shows Mission: Impossible (for which he received several Emmy Award nominations and a Golden Globe Award) and Space: 1999, has died, aged 89.

His publicist Dick Guttman confirmed the death, saying: “We are overcome with sadness.” He died on Saturday in Los Angeles of “unexpected complications” following a hospital visit.

Landau was born in New York and started out as a cartoonist for the New York Daily News before moving to theatre and then cinema acting.

He attended the Actors Studio, becoming good friends with James Dean. He recalled, “James Dean was my best friend. We were two young would-be and still-yet-to-work unemployed actors, dreaming out loud and enjoying every moment… We’d spend lots of time talking about the future, our craft and our chances of success in this newly different, ever-changing modern world we were living in.” He was also in the same class as Steve McQueen.

In 1957, he made his Broadway debut in Middle of the Night. Landau made his first major film appearance in 1959, as Leonard, right-hand man of a criminal mastermind, in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. He had featured roles in two 1960s epics, Cleopatra and The Greatest Story Ever Told, and played a ruthless killer in the 1965 western Nevada Smith, which starred Steve McQueen

In the late 1980s, Landau made a career comeback, earning an Academy Award nomination for his role in Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988). He said he was grateful to its director, Francis Ford Coppola, for the opportunity to play a role he enjoyed: “I’ve spent a lot of time playing roles that didn’t really challenge me,” he said, “You want roles that have dimension. The role of Abe Karatz gave me that.” He won the Golden Globe Award for his part in the film.

This was followed by a second nomination, for 1989’s Crimes and Misdemeanors, in a role director Woody Allen had a hard time filling. He won an Oscar for 1994’s Ed Wood, a biopic in which he plays actor Bela Lugosi. Landau also received a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Saturn Award for the role, as well as accolades from a number of critics groups.

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