Martin Landau Was So Much More Than 'Ed Wood'

Flickr Jewish actor Martin Landau in April 2010 at TCM Classic Film Festival

Martin Landau, an Oscar victor for his supporting role in Tim Burton's "Ed Wood" (1994), has died at 89, THR reports.

Landau's representative confirmed to the outlet that he died Saturday, July 15 of "unexpected complications" following a short stay at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

It was the Los Angeles run of that show that brought him to the attention of Alfred Hitchcock, who gave the actor, by then 30 years old, his first film role in North By Northwest as Leonard, one of the two henchmen who pursue Cary Grant throughout the film.

Landau also had the major role of Judah Rosenthal in Woody Allen's 1989 movie, "Crimes and Misdemeanors", for which he earned another Oscar nod for best supporting actor.

He is perhaps best known by modern audiences for his role as the down-on-his-luck Bela Lugosi in the black comedy Ed Wood, the Burton-directed biopic of the titular director of cult "bad" movies like Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Film fans are reeling tonight from the losses of two certified Hollywood legends: beloved horror filmmaker George A. Romero and Oscar-winning character actor Martin Landau.

Landau went on to teach a number of next-generation actors the craft as a coach at the Actors Studio.

At age 17 he began a five-year stint working as a cartoonist for the New York Daily News, and then quit his job to enter the Actors Studio at age 22. He was even offered the role of Spock on Star Trek, but he turned it down because "it would've been torturous" to play the emotionless Vulcan.

Landau's film career was reignited by his Oscar-nominated performance in "Tucker: The Man and His Dream" (1988). Accolades continued to roll in during the decade of the 2000s, with Primetime Emmy nominations for guest spots in Without a Trace and Entourage. Landau won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. On the big screen, he appeared in epics like Cleopatra, The Greatest Story Ever Told and The Hallelujah Trail; on the small screen, he racked up dozens of credits in Westerns - he looked good as a gunman - but something about him lent itself to larger-than-life characters as well.

"And I just said to myself, 'One day I'm going to get up to bat and I'm gonna hit a home run.' It's as simple as that". The statement provided by his rep also noted he is survived by ex-wife Bain, to whom he was married from 1957-1993.

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