Mission: Impossible was Martin Landau's ''mistress''

His recurring role allowed him a heathy distance from the series.

As Rollin Hand on Mission: Impossible, Martin Landau had his work cut out for him. That's because the character wasn't just a regular role. Rollin Hand was "The Man of A Million Faces," and was M:I's great master of disguises. His character was an actor, a magician, and a one-of-a-kind impersonator. Landau had an endlessly fresh acting job. 

Landau was a recurring guest star, allowing him just enough distance from the demands of being a main cast member. "I don't think I'd have taken the part on one of those five-year deals," he explained to the Greensboro, North Carolina News and Record in '66. 

That space was healthy, especially when you consider that Martin Landau was married to Mission: Impossible's Barbara Bain.

"We'd rather not make much of the fact we're married," Landau said. "It might spoil the image she's trying to create as Cinnamon. Bruce Geller, the producer, auditioned lots of girls, then realized he'd really had Barbara in mind all the time. But she went on an ordinary interview, and everybody at Desilu agreed she was Cinnamon."

While it's true that he was married to the show's Cinnamon Carter, Landau's position as a recurring guest star meant he was never tied down to Mission: Impossible. He got to have fun on the show, without it ever becoming his ball and chain.

"You see, this way I'm not married to the series. It's more like having a mistress, and everything is non-exclusive," Landau said.

It also afforded him one of few opportunities in his early career to play the good guy. 

"For years," Landau said, "people have come up to me and asked, 'Hey, how come you always have to play the bad guy?' They don't realize if you aren't the star of the series, then you've got to be the villain."

Mission: Impossible, though, proved to be the best of all possible worlds, at least until the third season, when Landau and his wife left the show.

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17 Comments

rb5391 2 months ago
shame in 7th and last season of MI that everyone couldnt come back and do a great episode...with peter graves, peter lupus, lynda day george, greg morris, martin landau, barbara bain, lesly ann down, barbara anderson, leonard nimoy, all working together on a big case...
tootsieg 8 months ago
Martin Landau is all over MeTV in so many westerns. Love it that he ended up playing a very good “Dracula.”
MsRockford74 8 months ago
Oh, I love Martin Landau! His eps of MI are the best! Just wasn't the same when he and BB left the show. I still enjoy some of the later eps, they're just not the same.
StrayCat 8 months ago
I believe Landau actually became a regular cast member for the 2nd season.
Coldnorth 8 months ago
The original Mission impossible was one of the top shows of its time. So many close calls, twists and turns and the bad guys never
Won. The cast was believable. Man of many faces was a stand out as was the rest of the original except for Briggs. I liked how they always ended up making the bad guys turn on each other. I don’t care for the new version. Many reasons why
Pacificsun 8 months ago
Hard to remember that far back. But I believe the dispute was over money. As in BB should've been making more. But the production was notoriously stingy. BB (creatively speaking) was equally talented but who was underappreciated. As they soon found out when trying to recreate that chemistry in her absence. ML walked of course in support of his wife. And not having a traditional contract made that easy. Ooops. Between losing Hill, ML, and BB, they had a problem. Enter one of the most well-known faces in TV. No doubt their 3 salaries helped secure Mr. Nimoy, who added his own special flair. But didn't want to handle the duration either. A tough lesson for Desilu/Paramount to learn the hard way!
Coldnorth Pacificsun 8 months ago
When the subject comes up of typecasting, I thought he was as believable as both Paris and Spock and did a great job doing both. His voice as Spock was unmistakable but it didn’t make me think of Spock when he was Paris
Andybandit 8 months ago
The only thing that I saw Martin Landau in was when he played twin brothers on an episode of Columbo.
Pacificsun Andybandit 8 months ago
Yes, that was very fun. MeTV never should've let go of Columbo.
justjeff Andybandit 8 months ago
What about his role as the villain/bully in the Twilight Zone episode "Mr. Denton on Doomsday"?...
BrittReid justjeff 8 months ago
What about his role playing Bela Lugosi..?
justjeff BrittReid 8 months ago
Oh, yeah... in "Ed Wood"... right?
justjeff 8 months ago
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StrayCat Andybandit 8 months ago
Let's not forget Landau and Bain together in the sci fi series Space 1999.
CaptainDunsel 8 months ago
Also, while "Rollin" was in many scenes of many episodes, it very often wasn't Martin Landau on set, but some other actor whose character Rollin was impersonating.
Pacificsun CaptainDunsel 8 months ago
Exactly, am surprised the article didn't catch that. But another perk ML managed.
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