We lost two amazing individuals this weekend.
Oscar winner Martin Landau, who came to prominence among television audiences as the master of disguise Rollin Hand in Mission: Impossible for which he received 3 Emmy nominations and won a Golden Globe, and then followed up with Moonbase Alpha Commander John Koenig on Space: 1999, passed away Saturday at the age of 89 after unexpected complications while hospitalized for a short length of time.
Landau always put all in when playing a role. This helped earn him the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Ed Wood for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi. I was also impressed by his portrayal of the President after a limited nuclear exchange in By Dawn’s Early Light. But after Space: 1999, roles for himself and then-wife and costar Barbara Bain disappeared, and they both turned to the corny roles of evil rich guy J.J. Pierson and evil scientist Dr. Olga Schmetner in The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island, the last attempt to revive that franchise. Landau persevered though, until he peaked yet again with his Oscar-winning performance in Ed Wood.
Landau became a member of the Actors Studio in 1955 when he and Steve McQueen were the only two accepted out of 2000 applicants. He learned under Lee Strasberg himself, and later taught acting there. Landau and Bain were married in 1957, and divorced in 1993. They had two daughters, Susan (who works in film and theater production), and actress Juliet.
Legend George A. Romero, the “Father of Zombie films” and “Godfather of the Dead”, passed away on Sunday at the age of 77 after a brief battle with lung cancer. Romero would change the horror film forever with his writing and directorial debut of Night Of The Living Dead. He would follow that with many other shocker monster films, including several more “… Dead” films and Creepshow, and executive produced the 1990 remake of Night Of The Living Dead. His use of black and white film and maximizing low budget productions showed it didn’t take money and gore to make scary. We can thank Romero for helping ignite the flame that has resulted in the current explosion in zombie-related productions.
Romero’s wife Suzanne and daughter Tina were by his side when he died peacefully listening to the soundtrack of The Quiet Man.