Landau is best known for his performances in the TV series Mission: Impossible (1966-73), as well as the films North by Northwest (1959), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), and Ed Wood (1994), which earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
He is survived by his daughters, Susan and Juliet, both of whom he had with his ex-wife Barbara Bain. To learn more about the couple and their thirty-six year marriage, here are five fast facts you need to know.
1. They Met At the New York Actor’s Studio in 1957
Landau and Bain (born Mildred Fogel) first met as students at the prestigious Actor’s Studio in New York. Among their peers at the Studio were James Dean, Steve McQueen, and Marilyn Monroe, whom Landau briefly dated. According to Bain’s profile on Celebrating Seniors, she and Landau didn’t get along initially.
“I thought she was an empty-headed model, a magazine cover wired for sound,” he told People magazine, “I had hair down to my shoulders, a beard and mustache. I was crude and rude.” Barbara concurred, recalling that “He was dressed from head to toe in black and was very sinister. I thought he was arrogant, stupid—and all the things,” she now finds, “he isn’t.” Despite this rough start, their romance bloomed at a dinner party a few weeks later, and the couple were married in 1957.
“We got married because we wanted to be together,” Bain recounted to People in 1976. “The way it started out was: Be nice to the one who’s working. But the joke was on us because we were both working. So now it’s just: Be nice.” Landau quipped that their marital empathy grew so strong “I can tell when she walks into a room.”
2. They Regularly Collaborated on Films & Television Shows
Landau and Bain started their career earnestly, the former acting in films like Pork Chop Hill (1959) and North by Northwest, and the latter appearing in television shows like Tightrope! (1959) and The Dick Van Dyke Show (1963). But it wasn’t until the couple worked together that they became household names in Hollywood.
The spy series Mission: Impossible became an instant success when it aired in 1966, elevating the star power of the couple and the rest of the cast. Series creator Bruce Geller had previously taken acting classes with Landau, and wrote the roles of Agent Rollin Hand and Cinnamon Carter with him and Bain in mind. For his performance, Landau won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series Drama and was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor.
Bain managed to usurp her husband, winning three consecutive Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress and a Golden Globe nomination to boot. They departed the series in 1969, citing salary disputes. Landau and Bain would later collaborate on the science fiction series Space: 1999. The series ran from 1975 to 1977, and has since become a cult classic for fans of the genre.
3. They Divorced in 1993 But Remained Neighbors & Friends
The cracks in Landau and Bain’s marriage first began to show in 1976. Midnight magazine revealed that the couple had separated during the filming of Space: 1999, citing “too much togetherness.” Bain alluded to as much, telling the magazine “It’s hard when you work all day with the same man you spend all night with. You have to try extra hard to keep the marriage interesting.”
A source close to the couple added “Sometimes a separation can actually help a marriage and I think that’s what Marty and Barbara are hoping. Their decision to appear in Space: 1999 was a good one, professionally speaking; but it did put new demands on their marriage.”
Landau and Bain officially filed for divorce in 1993. People reports that the couple were on good terms after the divorce, however, keeping in touch and even staying neighbors in the Hollywood Hills. Bain, 85, is still alive today. When asked if she would ever remarry, she told Leá Noblet “I do not think so. It’s something I did. I had a long experience with marriage, half good and half not so good. So it’s enough.”
4. Their Daughters Susan & Juliet Also Work in Hollywood
Landau and Bain gave birth to two children during their marriage, Susan and Juliet. The former, born Susan Meredith Landau in August 1960, received her B.A. from Hampshire College and furthered her studies at NYU’s Department of Dramatic Writing. After graduating, she worked under director Francis Ford Coppola at American Zoetrope, honing her skills in all facets of film production.
She served as miscellaneous crew on the films Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) and Tucker: The Man and His Dreams (1988), before moving up to producer on Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) and Wake (2003). She is married to director Roy Finch.
Juliet Landau, born March 1965, followed in her parent’s footsteps and became an actor. She made her debut with an uncredited role in Pump Up the Volume (1990), and went on to amass an impressive resume that included The Grifters (1990), Ed Wood (1994), and Theodore Rex (1995). Juliet found her greatest success on television however, acting as Drusilla in the science fiction shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) and Angel (2000-04). The latter earned her a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress on Television.
5. Landau Had a Relationship With Actress Gretchen Becker Before His Death
After divorcing Bain, Landau began a relationship with actress Gretchen Becker. The two met on the set of Ed Wood, and had grown close by the time Landau won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1994. In his acceptance speech, Landau specifically thanked Becker, calling her his “best friend” and commending her talents.
The two remained close until Landau’s death, according to Celebrating Seniors, and they acted opposite one another in films like Hollywood Homicide (2003), The Aryan Couple (2004), Finding Grandma (2010), and Mysteria (2011). They often attended red carpet events together, including the one below from 2012.
In the statement released after Landau’s death, it states that he is also survived by Becker, who is again listed as “a close friend.” To learn more about Landau’s family, click below.