A Minute With: Martin Landau on Marilyn Monroe to Anna Nicole

Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:11am EDT
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By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - At 85, Oscar-winning actor Martin Landau is writing his memoirs, teaching at the famed Actor's Studio, and will soon appear on TV as octogenarian oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall who married the late Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith.

Landau, who won an Oscar in 1994 for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in "Ed Wood," will be seen in Lifetime's "The Anna Nicole Smith Story," premiering on June 29.

Landau sat down with Reuters in Los Angeles to discuss his illustrious career, dating Marilyn Monroe and conversations with James Dean.

Q: What drew you to the "The Anna Nicole Smith Story?"

A: Everyone thinks of Marshall as an old geezer who just picked up Anna Nicole Smith in a strip club, but nobody knows that much about him. He was a Yale Law School graduate and trusted advisor to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I wanted to portray the fact that she actually gave him life. He was ready to die before he met her and then she rejuvenated him, until she started going downhill.

Q: Anna idolized and emulated Marilyn Monroe, which is shown throughout the film. Did working on this movie stir up memories of Monroe for you? I've heard you were romantically involved with the actress in the 1950s.

A: Marilyn was unique, which is not to say that Anna Nicole wasn't. I got to meet Anna Nicole once. Hugh Hefner (Playboy founder) introduced me to her. She was a big girl. When I say big, I mean big. She was big-boned. Everything about her was big, but she was proportioned perfectly.

Marilyn was very complicated. There was a different arc (to their lives) although they both died tragically.   Continued...

Actor Martin Landau smiles as he arrives at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood, California February 26, 2012. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok