Martin Landau, the chameleon-like actor who gained fame as crafty master of disguise Rollin Hand in the 1960s TV show Mission: Impossible, then capped a long and versatile career with an Oscar for his poignant portrayal of aging horror star Bela Lugosi in 1994's Ed Wood, has died, the AP reports. He was 89. Landau died Saturday of unexpected complications during a short stay at UCLA Medical Center, his publicist says. The New York-born Landau studied drawing and worked for a time as a New York Daily News cartoonist before switching careers at age 22. In 1955, he was among hundreds who applied to study at the prestigious Actors Studio and one of only two selected. The other was Steve McQueen.
After a brief but impressive Broadway career, Landau had made an auspicious film debut in the late 1950s, playing a soldier in Pork Chop Hill and a villain in the Hitchcock classic North By Northwest. He enjoyed far less success after Mission: Impossible, however, finding he had been typecast, and his film career languished for more than a decade. He began to find redemption with a sympathetic role in Tucker: The Man and his Dream, the 1988 Francis Ford Coppola film that garnered Landau his first Oscar nomination. He was nominated again the next year for his turn as the adulterous husband in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors. He won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Ed Wood. "There was a 10-year period when everything I did was bad. I'd like to go back and turn all those films into guitar picks," Landau said after accepting his Oscar. (Read more actor stories.)