Martin Landau has just died at 89.
Martin Landau has been in and out of most of my life. Some of my earliest memories of watching TV with my dad are of us sitting in the recliner together for Space: 1999.
When I think of him, though, the thing I always remember first (now) was his behavior at a Mission: Impossible film premiere party several years back. A young MTV correspondent (maybe Kennedy? can’t remember) approached him and said something cordial, which he returned. Then she asked him what his connection was to the event.
And instead of having a chuckle about youth and perhaps offering a vaguely paternal nudge in the right direction, he began viciously berating her for not knowing her stuff. I mean, he lit into her. She was deer-in-the-headlights. She apologized; he wouldn’t hear it. In fact, they cut back to her a few minutes later in a different part of the room, and he was still scolding her.
(I couldn’t find a video with a quick search. I’ll look for it again tonight.)
Now I get that we don’t really know celebrities. Sometimes that’s tragic (see here and here); other times it’s just potentially misguided. But that superficiality is really our entire relationship with these people, so it persists to some degree whether or not we like it.
It’s why I remember Martin Landau as a sour, graceless old man, and then an actor.
(See also Jay Leno.)