Thursday, July 20, 2017

R.I.P. Martin Landau.

We mourn the passing of the great actor Martin Landau on July 15, 2017, at the age of 89.  

Landau was simply EVERYWHERE, and pretty much did EVERYTHING... and did it so well!  

There's no way I could cover such a career in a mere Blog post, so I'll focus on (only a portion of) the things that meant the most to me!  

Mission Impossible (1966-1973). 

Space 1999 (1975-1977). 

And, I'll reserve the remainder of this post for some lesser-known personal favorites...

The Outer Limits: "The Man Who Was Never Born" (Aired: October 28, 1963).  

Landau and The Outer Limits presage the entire "Terminator" franchise, with this tale of hideously-mutated future Earth-man "Andro", who seizes the opportunity to travel back to then-contemporary 1960s Earth, to prevent the birth of scientist "Bertram Cabot, Jr." who will inadvertently unleash a virulent plague to decimate civilization.  

As Andro, Landau must maintain a hypnotically-induced "normal" appearance to mask his true form, resulting in Martin Landau appearing alternately as "himself" and as the monstrous mutant. 

This is one of the true classic episodes of The Outer Limits!  

Later that season for The Outer Limits, Landau also appeared in "The Bellero Shield" (February 10, 1964), a 1960s sci-fi based version of "Macbeth" (if you can believe that)!

Though Martin Landau and co-stars Neil Hamilton (Commissioner Gordon on the 1966 BATMAN TV series), and Chita Rivera turn in very solid and enjoyable performances, this episode is completely stolen by Sally Kellerman as the "Lady Macbeth character"... and has a rather disturbing ending. 

Both are must-see for Landau and sci-fi fans!  

Martin Landau also appeared in a whole-lotta westerns, but what follows may have been the most unusual.  

Wanted Dead or Alive: "The Monster" (Aired: January 16, 1960).

Once one excludes THE WILD WILD WEST (where almost ANYTHING was possible) from consideration, I just couldn't imagine, let alone resist, a TV western with a title of "The Monster"... much less one starring Steve McQueen and Martin Landau, so this was a natural for me!  ...And it did not disappoint!  
Landau AND Steve McQueen were both members of The Actors Studio!
Steve McQueen's bounty hunter "Josh Randall" encounters "Count Khorba" (Landau) -- a criminal circus elephant trainer who, with his great beast, terrorizes and kills miners for their gold.  
Look!  It's Landau on the poster! 

Um, would it REALLY be a spoiler to reveal that, in the end, Landau gets trampled by his own elephant, scared by gunfire?  If so, my apologies

Ya gotta admit, you don't see this sorta thing too often in westerns!  

Martin Landau was also under consideration for the role of Mr. Spock in STAR TREK, the role made historically-famous by Leonard Nimoy.   I must admit, Landau would have made an interesting choice for a Vulcan.  

Oddly, when Landau left MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, it was Leonard Nimoy (as "Paris") who became the series' "master of disguise", replacing Landau's "Rollin Hand" in that capacity! 

Before leaving, check out THIS POST on GET SMART for just one more amazing cameo by Martin Landau! 

Mr. Landau's full set of IMDB credits can be accessed HERE! 

Rest in Peace, Martin Landau, and thank you for so many great moments, great characters, and great performances!  


Elaine said...

In all the decades I've watched the Oscars, the single Oscar choice that made me the most happy was Martin Landau's Supporting Actor Oscar for "Ed Wood". I loved the movie, I loved Landau in the movie, and I loved Landau, period.

Joe Torcivia said...


You may find this hard to believe, but I’ve not seen “Ed Wood”, despite my interests in Bela Lugosi, “Plan Nine from Outer Space” and, of course, Martin Landau!

I hope to rectify this before long. Nevertheless, I, too, was thrilled when I learned of his Oscar – simply because of his great and wonderful career, which we celebrate here!

scarecrow33 said...

He had a key supporting role in "The Majestic" with Jim Carrey. Powerful movie. The script didn't give him a lot to do, but he took the role and made it hugely memorable. He believes that Jim Carrey's character is his long-lost son, missing in action and believed killed in WWII. Plays the part for all it's worth, makes us feel his sense of loss and then recovery. Brilliant!

Joe Torcivia said...


While I don't think I could ever get to a place where I could offer praise toward anything featuring Jim Carrey (whether I've seen it OR not - and I'll admit I haven't), the great thing about an actor as accomplished as Martin Landau is that everyone has their favorite roles and moments.

As proof, witness that both comments thus far reference films of Martin Landau that I have not seen.

...And, conversely, I'm doubting that most folks out there have seen him trampled by that western elephant! :-)