James Rebhorn, a popular character actor, died on March 21 at his home in South Orange, New Jersey at the age of 65. He appeared in over 100 movies, TV shows and plays. The actor’s cause of death was skin cancer.
First diagnosed with melanoma in 1992, he received regular treatments to keep the cancer under control. Only recently did the condition worsen, however, he continued working up to the time of his death. Rebhorn leaves behind his wife Rebecca Linn and their two daughters, Emma and Hannah.
Start of Rebhorn’s acting career
Rebhorn attend Wittenberg University where he majored in political science, but the acting bug bit him.
He starred in leading roles in “Lysistrata” and “Tricks of Scapin.” After graduating from Wittenberg in 1970, he entered Columbia University’s School of the Arts and obtained a Master of Fine Arts. Before long, Rebhorn won lead roles in metropolitan theater company productions around the country.
Soap opera career
Rebhorn’s first regular television roles came on soap operas. He played John Brady from 1981 to 1982 in “Texas.” “Guiding Light” fans remember him well for his role as abusive stepfather Bradley Raines.
Raines was the main challenge to the love of super couple Phillip Spaulding and his stepdaughter Beth Raines. So good at playing the villain fans love to hate, “As the World Turns” cast him as another abusive father. He appeared on that soap opera from 1988 to 1991 playing Henry Lange.
Prime time television career
In addition to his daytime roles, James Rebhorn appeared in many prime time television series, movies, and miniseries.
In one of his most famous television roles, he played the district attorney who ultimately puts Seinfeld and friends behind bars in the series finale of “Seinfeld.”
Rebhorn’s first opportunity to star in a network prime time series came in 2006 when he appeared in “The Book of Daniel.”
Many stations refused to air the show because of its controversial portrayal of Christians and their faith. Rebhorn’s character was the center of one controversial storyline.
He played a retired bishop who is having an affair with the current bishop as he wife suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. NBC cancelled the show after broadcasting only four episodes. Rebhorn’s bishop is just one of several flawed, authoritarian characters he has portrayed on television. Another well known Rebhorn role is Special Agent Reese Hughes on “White Collar.”
Although not an A-list star, James Rebhorn played key supporting roles in several popular movies, including “Regarding Henry,” “Scent of a Woman,” “8 Seconds,” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”
Probably his best known film performance came in “Independence Day.” He played U.S. Secretary of Defense Albert Nimzicki who Rebhorn described as being a lot like Oliver North. With Nimzicki, Rebhorn again played a villain who the president ultimately fires.
Currently, Rebhorn stars in the recurring role of Frank Mathison, the bipolar father of Carrie Mathison on Showtime’s hit show “Homeland.” Neither Showtime nor the show’s producers have announced how Rebhorn’s death will affect the show or its story lines.