Martin Landau is an American actor. Landau began his career in the 1950s; his early films include a supporting role in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. He played continuing roles in the television series ‘ for which he received Emmy Award nominations, and ‘. He received a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture and his first nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in , and was also Oscar nominated for his role in Crimes and Misdemeanors. His performance in the supporting role of Béla Lugosi in Ed Wood earned him the Academy Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe. He continues to perform in film and television and heads the Hollywood branch of the Actors Studio.
Landau was born into a Jewish-American family in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Selma and Morris Landau, an Austrian-born machinist who scrambled to rescue relatives from the Nazis. At the age of 17, he began working as a cartoonist for the Daily News, assisting Gus Edson on The Gumps comic strip during the 1940s and 1950s.
Influenced by Charlie Chaplin and the escapism of the cinema, he pursued an acting career. He attended the Actors Studio in the same class with Steve McQueen and in 1957, Landau made his Broadway debut in Middle of the Night. Encouraged by his mentor Lee Strasberg, Landau also taught acting. Actors he has coached include Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston.
In 1959, Landau made his first major film appearance in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest at the age of 31. Landau took the role of master of disguise Rollin Hand in , becoming one of the show’s better-known stars. According to The Complete Mission: Impossible Dossier, by Patrick J. White, Landau initially declined to be contracted to the show as he did not want it to interfere with his film career; instead, for the first season he was credited in “special guest appearances by” him. He became a “full-time” cast member with the second season, although the studio agreed to only contract him on a year-by-year basis rather than the then-standard five years. The role of Rollin Hand required Landau to perform a wide range of accents and characters from dictators to thugs, and several episodes saw Landau playing dual roles – not only Hand’s impersonation, but also the person Hand is impersonating. He co-starred in the series with his then wife, Barbara Bain.