I’ve just heard the sad news that Martin has died. He was 89 years old.
A hugely talented actor who stole every scene he was in. Suave, dapper and the owner of one of the most distinctive voices in film and TV history; Martin really was every inch the star.
Surprisingly though he never became a leading man on the big screen, despite having the talent to have done so. He became a reliable character actor in films.
His biggest screen successes came on the small screen. His most famous (and my favourite among all of his performances)role was as Rollin Hand in Mission Impossible (1966-1973). Rollin was the teams master of disguise, a tough and suave badass who could be relied upon in tough situations. Martin was married to his co-star from that series, Barbara Bain, from 1957 until their divorce in 1993. The pair also starred together in the cult Sci-Fi series Space 1999.
In 1959, Martin sent shivers down the spines of many viewers, when he played the sadistic henchman in Hitchcock’s North By Northwest. This is a perfect example of an actor making the most of a fairly small role. Martin steals every scene he is in and shows you this man is dangerous and loves violence and pain.
He won an Oscar in 1994, for his performance as horror legend Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood.
Martin was friends with James Dean, and also worked as an acting coach (Jack Nicholson is among the actors who were taught by Martin.)
He famously turned down the role of Commander Spock in the Star Trek TV series. Whilst I’ve always been intrigued imagining how he would have played the role, I’m very glad he declined and that Leonard Nimoy was cast, he was the right man for the role.
He continued working steadily in TV and film into the 90’s and beyond and was always a welcome presence.
My favourites among his later roles are The XFiles: Fight The Future (1998) , in which he played a scared informant of Agent Mulder. I also like him in The Aryan Couple (2004) in which he played a Jewish businessman caught up in WW2.
R.I.P Martin. All sympathies to his family and friends.
What are your thoughts on Martin and his career? Any favourite performances?