Friday, July 21, 2017

Martin Landau (1928-2017)

"If we understand others, in time, I believe, we come to understand ourselves."
-Martin Landau as John Koenig of Space:1999-
The loss of Martin Landau (1928-2017) has sadly arrived.

Whenever I saw this tremendous actor perform and see him so aged at 89 I cringed at the thought of losing him.

This FAB FRIDAY, a day that celebrates all of the fantastic from the wonderful world of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, a world of which Martin Landau was a big part, belongs exclusively to Martin Landau.

Landau was indeed at the heart of one of this writer's very favorite science fiction series, Space:1999 (1975-1977). The series is covered often here. It would easily rank in my BIG 10 for science fiction television.

Landau was the thread and the heartbeat to two solid years of Space:1999 programming despite the losses on that series of key players between Year One and Year Two. Despite losses, actors who had their roles minimized and the introduction of new characters Landau's Commander John Koenig was at the heart of the show. It was Landau, along with his then wife Barbara Bain, who grounded and helped make Space:1999 such a successful dramatic science fiction series.

Landau also co-starred with Bain for the first three seasons of Mission: Impossible (1966-1969), another extraordinarily influential franchise in popular culture.

Landau was one of those actors that managed to break free of the constraints of science fiction affiliation and enjoy a laudable, rewarding career in film.

In science fiction Landau starred in two episodes (Mr. Denton On Doomsday, The Jeopardy Room) of The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) and two episodes (The Man Who Was Never Born, The Bellero Shield) of The Outer Limits (1963-1964).

Following his stints in sci-fi he landed important roles in Tucker: The Man And His Dream (1988), Crimes And Misdemeanors (1989), Ed Wood (1994), The X-Files: Fight The Future (1998), The Majestic (2001), Remember (2015) and 9 (2009) just to name a few highlights.

He guested on a tremendous amount of television but surprisingly no love for the Love Boat or Fantasy Island. Somehow that doesn't surprise me.

For this sci-fi geek's money Space:1999 will remain an essential classic and one of this television fan's very best sci-fi series to make an Eagle landing on TV. Personally, Landau's often decisive, sometimes hot-tempered demeanor had a lot to do with how memorable that series was for me. Again, Landau lifts off at 89.


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