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Academy Award-winning actor Martin Landau has appeared on such television series as Mission: Impossible and in such films as Ed Wood.
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Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1931 (some sources say 1928), Martin Landau worked as a cartoonist for the New York Daily News before becoming an actor. In 1955, he joined the Actors Studio, where he studied with Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan. He made his film debut in 1959 and went on to appear in Cleopatra (1963) and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). In 1966,
"There was a long period when I was offered one-dimensional roles in meaningless films. I was lucky I didn't have to drive a taxi; I was working as an actor. But it was terrible."
"Once I take a role, I became the character and I say 'I.' I never say 'he.' That's an act of separation."
"Only bad actors try to cry, good actors try not to cry. How a character hides his feelings tells us who he is."
Landau found fame as a cast member of the television spy drama Mission: Impossible. He went on to appear in such films as Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988) and Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989). In 1994, Landau won an Academy Award for his work on Ed Wood.
Veteran character actor Martin Landau was born on June 20, 1931 (some sources say 1928), in Brooklyn, New York. He first dreamed of becoming an artist. After graduating from Brooklyn's James Madison High School, Landau studied at the Pratt Institute and the Art Students League.
Around the age of 17, Landau landed a job with the New York Daily News as a cartoonist and illustrator. He made the switch to acting in his early twenties. As Landau explained to Back Stage West, "I was being groomed to be the next theater cartoonist. But when I looked around the office and saw guys 30 and 40 years my senior doing exactly what I was doing ... I knew this wasn't for me."
In the mid-1950s, Landau won a coveted spot to train at the Actors Studio in New York City. He was one of two actors accepted at the time—the other new member was Steve McQueen. Through the Actors Studio, Landau honed his craft under the guidance of Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan among others. He later became a teacher at the studio and has served as the co-creative director of the program's West Coast branch for many years.
In 1957, Landau got his first major break with the help of Paddy Chayefsky, who recommended the young actor for a touring production of his play Middle of the Night. After that tour, Landau landed some television work. He also married actress Barbara Bain around this time.
Landau made the leap to the big screen in 1959, appearing in the war drama Pork Chop Hill with Gregory Peck. That same year, Landau played a menacing bad guy in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest, starring Cary Grant. He also appeared in the 1963 historic epic Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Two years later, Landau played a villainous character in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965).
In 1966, Landau had a career breakthrough with the television spy drama Mission: Impossible. He played master of disguise Rollin Hand on the popular series, which also featured Peter Graves and his wife, Barbara Bain. The show made Landau a bona fide star. He stayed with the show for three seasons; he and his wife both left the series in 1969.
Landau found his Mission: Impossible image hard to shake for many years, which limited the types of roles he was offered.
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