The master of disguise who would’ve been Spock(RIP Martin Landau)

Martin Landau died this past weekend, leaving behind many memorable portrayals, including an Oscar-winning turn as a well-past-his-prime Bela Lugosi in “Ed Wood.” But to the first color generation of TV viewers he’ll always be the cunning master of disguise who took part in many Missions: IMPOSSIBLE. What not many people may have known about him was that at the same time Dan Briggs was assembling his IM Force, Landau was getting an offer from another Desilu show which was getting ready to beam up: That show was Star Trek and the role Landau was being interviewed for was the uncaring, resolute, analytical one from the planet Vulcan, Mr. Spock. While such a role would’ve beamed Landau up to the stratosphere, the rigors of the role, the emotions being poured into playing someone without any would’ve in Landau’s words, “killed me.” Landau bypassed the Enterprising role, earning 3 Emmy nominations before leaving the series with wife/co-star Barbara Bain in a contract dispute.

All things being equal, it would be the eventual Spock, Leonard Nimoy that replaced Landau on the IM Force, but as it turned out, Landau’s next series(also with his wife) was a British-made sci-fi entry called SPACE:1999. Landau’s many roles after that earned universal acclaim, but as one who put on many disguises rather than someone from another planet who disguised his emotions, that one role wasn’t too “IMPOSSIBLE” an Mission to accomplish.


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