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Oscar-winner Martin Landau, who starred in 'Ed Wood,' 'North By Northwest' and 'Entourage,' dies at 89

Nardine Saad, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES -- Martin Landau, Oscar-winning actor for "Ed Wood," has died at 89.

He died Saturday at UCLA Medical Center where he experienced "unexpected complications" during a short hospitalization, his publicist confirmed.

"We are overcome with sadness to report the death of iconic actor Martin Landau," a statement said.

The Oscar-winning veteran appeared in classic films such as Tim Burton's "Ed Wood" and Alfred Hitchock's "North By Northwest" and starred in the "Mission: Impossible" television series in the 1960s.

He won his Academy Award for his portrayal of washed-up Bela Lugosi in "Ed Wood."

Throughout his prolific career, the tall, lean actor remained enthusiastic about his craft, which saw him inhabit roles that included a master spy, space commander, former Hollywood heavyweights, the prophet Abraham and a wheelchair-bound Holocaust survivor. Landau's dedication was apparent during his tenure as co-artistic director for Actors Studio West with Oscar-nominated director Mark Rydell. He recently starred in the CBS police procedural "Without a Trace," playing a man with Alzheimer's disease, and HBO's "Entourage," playing bumbling film producer Bob Ryan.

 

Born in Brooklyn in 1928, Landau began his career as a newspaperman at age 17, working for five years at the New York Daily News as a staff cartoonist and illustrator while studying at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. After five years at the News, Landau suddenly quit to try his hand at acting.

"I told the picture editor I was going into the theater. I think he thought I was going to be an usher," he said in a 1989 interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Landau had few job prospects and lived on $5 a week from his savings as he made the rounds. He was hired for a summer stock company on an island off Portland, Maine, did 12 shows -- including musicals -- in 13 weeks and had a swell time.

While living in New York in the 1950s, he fraternized with pal James Dean and competed for roles with the likes of Sydney Pollack and John Cassavetes.

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