On Sunday, we lost a showbiz giant when Martin Landaudied at the age of 89. Working steadily from 1959 until this year (he has a movie coming out in the fall), Landau proved himself to be a true original. During his decades-spanning career, he often eschewed showy parts in favor of deeply human roles in fare as diverse as Cleopatra and Rounders. (Working with some of the most impressive entertainment icons of all time in the process). Television roles on Mission: Impossible and Space: 1999 made him a household name, but it was Landau’s ability to seem grounded in any role — no matter how fantastic — that truly endeared him to audiences. This everyman quality also made him a much in-demand acting teacher, an opportunity that allowed him to share his craft with those looking to follow in his impressive footsteps.
The role Landau was most celebrated for is also my personal favorite, that of Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton‘s loving biopic Ed Wood. Portraying the final days of the horror film legend, Landau delivers a career-best performance (one that rightfully won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar) that is rich with emotion and heart. But then again, those are qualities that he consistently demonstrated throughout his entire life, and a reminder of why his passing is so noteworthy.