Martin Landau’s daughter Susie Landau Finch tells PEOPLE growing up with the Hollywood star made for a very exciting childhood.
“No one day was the same. He was full of excitement and would tell me amazing bedtime stories and was always making funny voices – so much that he scared my little sister, Juliet” she says.
The actor, who won an Academy Award in 1994 for the Tim Burton-directed Ed Wood, came to fame playing a villain in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest and later in the original Mission: Impossible TV show on CBS. He died at UCLA Medical Center on Saturday afternoon following “unexpected complications during a short hospitalization,” according to a statement from his reps. He was 89.
Finch, whose mother is actress Barbara Bain, says despite her father’s serious roles, he always had a great sense of humor and surrounded himself with funny friends, including Carl Reiner.
“The Reiners were my parents best friends and when I was little Carl, Estelle and Rob and Mel Brooks would be over and there were all these funny jokes,” she says. “Every Thanksgiving and Christmas actors were coming over and improvising and it was a lot of fun.”
But there was one time Finch recalls not laughing at her thespian parents.
“In high school, one of the first times a boyfriend came to my house my parents came home from filming Space: 1999 as cave people and at dinner they showed us how my dad had to drag my mother on the floor in a scene. I was dying at the table. It was pretty funny and embarrassing and I still remember how red I felt,” she says.
Landau and Bain were married for 36 years.
For more on Martin Landau’s life, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.
But Finch’s biggest joy came from watching her father interact with her 8-year-old daughter Aria.
“He taught her how to draw and they would draw together,” she says. “He adored her with all his heart and it was really beautiful to see him with her and he taught her a lot.”
Finch, a film producer, learned a lot from her father and says one of the most important lessons he passed along was to live in the moment.
“For my whole life my father said to me to be in the moment, relax and not to worry,” she says. “Now, I know what that means more than ever.”
Finch asks that any donations be made to an organization close to her father’s heart — Actor’s Studio West Coast.