DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And we're sad to report that Martin Landau has died. He was really one of Hollywood's acclaimed actors, though his life began on the other coast, a life that almost went another way, as he told NPR a few years ago.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)
MARTIN LANDAU: I started on the New York Daily News as a kid when I was 17 years old as a cartoonist and illustrator. And I was being groomed to be the theatrical caricaturist. And I knew if I got that job, I'd never quit. So I quit.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Martin Landau auditioned to join the Actors Studio, an organization for actors and directors and playwrights. And later, he landed a role in Alfred Hitchcock's "North By Northwest."
(SOUNDBITE OF BERNARD HERRMANN'S "NORTH BY NORTHWEST OVERTURE")
INSKEEP: Cary Grant plays an advertising executive pulled into a spy drama. Martin Landau plays a henchman who steps on Cary Grant's fingers as he dangles off the side of Mount Rushmore.
GREENE: Things did not end well for Lindau's character, but the actor went on to star in the '60's series "Mission Impossible" and also win an Oscar for the biopic "Ed Wood."
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ED WOOD")
LANDAU: (As Bela Lugosi) I shall perfect my own race of people, a race of atomic supermen that will conquer the world (laughter).
JOHNNY DEPP: (As Ed Wood) Cut. That's a wrap.
GREENE: Actor Martin Landau - he passed away at the age of 89.
(SOUNDBITE OF LALO SCHIFRIN'S "THEME FROM MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.