Martin Landau and Barbara Bain had a love meant for the screen.
Oscar winner Landau, who died Saturday at at age 89 after a brief illness, rose through the ranks in Hollywood alongside his Mission: Impossible costar Bain, as their marriage spanned 36 years and two children before they divorced in 1993.
“If one could examine his DNA, it would read ‘Actor.’ He embraced every role with fire and fierce dedication,” Bain told PEOPLE on Monday. “Playing Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood was his loving tribute to all actors and garnered him a well deserved Academy Award. His work was his joy and his legacy.”
The couple’s romance got off to an unlikely start when Bain showed up to one of Landau’s classes at the Actors Studio in New York.
“I thought she was an empty-headed model, a magazine cover wired for sound,” he told PEOPLE back in 1976 of his first impression of Bain. “I had hair down to my shoulders, a beard and mustache. I was crude and rude.”
Bain, now 85, agreed. “He was dressed from head to toe in black and was very sinister. I thought he was arrogant, stupid—and all the things he isn’t.”
Still, the two met again at a party a few weeks later and argued all night — before heading home together in the early hours of the morning. “Then we walked down Park Avenue,” Bain recalled, “and Martin said something so ridiculous that we fell down in the street, laughing.”
The couple married in 1957 and, from there, started a partnership that saw them both rise to fame. They starred in Mission: Impossible together, with Bain winning three consecutive Emmy Awards for best dramatic actress starting in 1967 and Landau also landing nominations for his work.
Landau with Susie and Julie
After the hit CBS show ended, the couple moved to London with their two daughters, Susie and Julie, to star in Space: 1999. Though married for almost 20 years by that point, the couple kept separate trailers on set.
“We treat each other as professionals when we’re working,” Landau said. “Each of us makes a little space for the other. Otherwise it gets too clubby.”
But one of Hollywood’s longest love affairs came to an end in 1993 when Landau and Bain divorced.
Landau, who went on to star in a string of successful movies, earn two Oscar nominations and claim the prize in 1995 for Ed Wood, began dating actress Gretchen Becker after the divorce. Bain has continued to act in film and TV, including a guest appearance on CBS’s Code Black last year.