Aster-Obit: Martin Landau

On July 15, 2017, stage and screen actor Martin Landau passed away, at the age of 89, of “unexpected complications” after a brief hospital stay. Three time Academy Award nominee and winner of the Best Supporting Actor award for his role as Bela Lugosi in 1994’s “Ed Wood”, Landau was a familiar face in television as well, with a popular role in the 1960s espionage series, “Mission: Impossible”, where he co-starred with real-life wife Barbara Bain. His first featured film role was as James Mason’s criminal henchman in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 suspense classic “North by Northwest”, and he garnered Oscar nominations for his work in 1988’s “Tucker: The Man and His Dream” and Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (1989). An alumnus of the Actors Studio himself, Landau went on to coach such stars as Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston, and was still active in the organization at his death.


Acting was Landau’s life, and this is well-reflected in his birth chart. Born 20 June 1928 at 12:01 AM EDT in Brooklyn, NY (Rodden rating C), Landau initially worked as an editorial cartoonist at the New York “Daily News”, but quit at age 22 to follow his passion. As he himself described it, “To become an actor was a dream I must’ve had so deeply and so strongly because I left a lucrative, well-paying job that I could do well to become an unemployed actor. It’s crazy if you think about it. To this day, I can still hear my mother’s voice saying, ‘You did what?!” Former wife Barbara Bain paid tribute to his authenticity and love of his profession in a statement upon his death: “If one could examine his DNA, it would read ACTOR.”

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Martin Landau & Barbara Bain in “Mission: Impossible”

The choice of acting as a career for Landau is easy to see astrologically, even without reference to his genes. His Sun at 28 Gemini is conjunct asteroid Actor at 2 Cancer, making the dramatic arts a central part of his core identity. The Sun is also squared by asteroid Oskar at 25 Virgo, intimating the success he would achieve in his profession. Venus, the planetary body ruling entertainers, is also conjoined the Sun from 25 Gemini, and granted a fair countenance, with smoldering good looks allied to a 6’1” frame. Neptune, associated with fantasy, theater and drama, is also in a strong position; at 26 Leo, it is conjunct the 3 Virgo Descendant and sextile the Sun; together, these factors form a trifecta of acting-related celestial influences.


Asteroid Landau at 28 Aquarius is in exact trine to the Sun, a common contact with one’s own PNA, while asteroid Martina (the feminine version of Martin) at 13 Aries conjoins natal Uranus at 7 Aries, conveying a certain exotic quality to Landau, who was also a versatile voice performer. His role on “Mission: Impossible” as the resident master of disguise showcased his ability to assume an alien character and accent, both Uranian traits. Martina is also trined Saturn, ruling career and success, and the MC, at 14 and 15 Sagittarius respectively. Landau is also powerfully at station, having turned retrograde the day before his birth, and is conjoined by asteroid Nike, named for the Greek goddess of victory, also at its station from 22 Aquarius. This prefigures Landau’s Academy Award win, some 67 years later. Stationary bodies, of whatever type, exert an influence and importance in the life which is disproportionately greater than the norm.


Often the roles which bring acclaim to actors can be found as PNAs in their birth charts, or active by transit when their performances are honored. Such is the case with Landau, who won his Oscar for portraying Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood”. Landau sports a remarkable opposition in his birth chart, from Bella (variant and homonym of Bela) at 15 Scorpio to Lugosi at 19 Taurus (named for the classic horror film star). These are semisquare and sesquiquadrate to natal Actor at 2 Cancer, with Bella also sesquiquadrate the Sun, allowing Landau to reach deep within to extract an authentic portrayal of the character, based on his own core being. Incredibly, with Nike already conjunct Landau, as described above, there is also a conjunction between asteroid Victoria at 20 Scorpio (named for Nike’s Roman counterpart and the root of our word “victory”) and asteroid Bella, defining the precise role which would bring Landau his win!

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Landau as Bela Lugosi in “Ed Wood” (1994)

When the Oscars were awarded at the 67th Academy Awards ceremony on March 27 1995, all these factors were also powerfully present. Asteroid Oskar at 28 Pisces was conjoined the Sun at 6 Aries, and in exact square to Landau’s natal Sun at 28 Gemini. The Sun is involved in a Grand Trine, with Nike at 5 Leo (still at its station degree, having turned direct a week before) and asteroid Landau at 8 Sagittarius (also at its station degree, about to turn retrograde a week later). Transit asteroids Martina and Bella are conjunct, at 14 and 17 Gemini, with Bella exactly sextile Victoria at 17 Leo (also at its station retrograde degree, but not slated to turn for another 11 days). This dizzying combination of factors clinched the win for Landau.


As in life, so in death. Landau’s passing on July 15, 2017 shows a Sun/Mars/Martina conjunction at 23, 26 and 29 Cancer, with Martina exactly on Landau’s natal Moon, and all points conjoined his natal asteroid Atropos, named for the mythic Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death, at 24 Cancer. The Sun/Martina conjunction shows prominence for Martin on that day, and Martina itself is also broadly conjunct transit Atropos at 7 Leo, doubling down on its death-related imagery. Transit asteroid Landau at 12 Libra exactly opposes transit asteroid Osiris at 12 Aries, named for the ancient Egyptian god of the dead, linking death and the actor in the daily sky, and is also conjoined transit Jupiter at 15 Libra, bringing prominence to Landau once more. Landau and Osiris also connect to natal Martina at 13 Aries, reiterating the theme of his passing in very personal terms.

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Landau brings home Oscar 27 March 1995

A close Venus/Requiem pairing at 11 and 10 Gemini again suggests the death of an entertainer, with Requiem named for the funeral mass for the dead. This falls on Landau’s natal IC at 15 Gemini, and squares his natal asteroid Anubis, named for the ancient Egyptian deity governing funerary rites, at 13 Virgo, as well as opposing natal Saturn, ancient lord of death, at 14 Sagittarius, forming a T-Square over all.


Transit asteroid Rip (for the acronym “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”, a common tombstone inscription) at 9 Virgo is closing in on natal Anubis, and is conjunct the 3 Virgo Descendant of the natal chart. Transit asteroid Lachesis, named for the Greek Fate who determines the span of life, appears at 24 Pisces squared the natal Sun and forming a Grand Cross with Landau’s natal Rip at 25 Sagittarius and transit Anubis at 18 Virgo (although this last is too wide to be considered fully squared the natal Sun). Lastly, transit Lachesis at 5 Capricorn squares natal Uranus at 7 Aries (itself conjunct natal Martina) – recall the “unexpected complications” (Uranus) resulting in his death (Lachesis).


All in all, a remarkable ending to a remarkable life.


Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book, detailing deep space points in astrological interpretation, and the forthcoming Heaven on Earth, a comprehensive study of asteroids, both mythic and personal. Alex is a frequent contributor to “The Mountain Astrologer”, “Daykeeper Journal”, and NCGR’s Journals and “Enews Commentary”; his work has also appeared in “Aspects” magazine, “Dell Horoscope”, “Planetwaves”, “Neptune Café” and “Sasstrology.” He is a past president of Philadelphia Astrological Society, and a former board member for the Philadelphia Chapter of NCGR.

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