Martin Landau of TV's Mission: Impossible dies aged 89

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Associated Press

Martin Landau, the chameleon-like actor who gained fame as the crafty master of disguise in the 1960s TV show Mission: Impossible, has died aged 89.

Among his memorable roles was as Rollin Hand in the Mission Impossible TV series, and he won an Oscar for his role in Ed Wood.
Source: Associated Press

He capped a long and versatile career with an Oscar for his poignant portrayal of aging horror movie star Bela Lugosi in 1994's Ed Wood.

Landau died of unexpected complications during a short stay at UCLA Medical Center, his publicist Dick Guttman said.

Mission: Impossible, which also starred Landau's wife, Barbara Bain, became an immediate hit upon its debut in 1966. 

It remained on the air until 1973, but Landau and Bain left at the end of the show's third season amid a financial dispute with the producers. 

They starred in the British-made sci-fi series Space: 1999 from 1975 to 1977.

Landau might have been a superstar but for a role he didn't play - the pointy-eared starship Enterprise science officer, Mr Spock. 

Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry had offered him the half-Vulcan, half-human who attempts to rid his life of all emotion. Landau turned it down.

"A character without emotions would have driven me crazy; I would have had to be lobotomised," he explained in 2001. 

Instead, he chose Mission: Impossible, and Leonard Nimoy went on to everlasting fame as Spock. Ironically, Nimoy replaced Landau on Mission: Impossible.

Landau and Bain had two daughters, Susan and Juliet. They divorced in 1993.

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