I think of him as Principal Trask in “Scent Of A Woman” and the guy in “The Game.” My friend Brett was like, “…you could have just said the dad from Homeland.” You probably know James Rebhorn from somewhere too. Maybe like, every Law & Order ever.
He died last week after a 10-year struggle with cancer and he wrote his own obituary, which is the world’s sweetest obituary, considering how mean he was in “Scent Of A Woman.”
This was posted on Rebhorn’s church website:
James Robert Rebhorn was born on Sept. 1, 1948, in Philadelphia, PA. His mother, Ardell Frances Rebhorn, nee Hoch, loved him very much and supported all his dreams. She taught him the value of good manners and courtesy, and that hospitality is no small thing. His father, James Harry Rebhorn, was no less devoted to him. From him, Jim learned that there is no excuse for poor craftsmanship. A job well done rarely takes more or less time than a job poorly done. They gave him his faith and wisely encouraged him to stay in touch with God.
He is survived by his sister, Janice Barbara Galbraith, of Myrtle Beach, SC. She was his friend, his confidant, and, more often than either of them would like to admit, his bridge over troubled waters.
He is also survived by his wife, Rebecca Fulton Linn, and his two daughters, Emma Rebecca Rebhorn and Hannah Linn Rebhorn. They anchored his life and gave him the freedom to live it. Without them, always at the center of his being, his life would have been little more than a vapor. Rebecca loved him with all his flaws, and in her the concept of ceaseless love could find no better example.
His children made him immensely proud. Their dedication to improving our species and making the world a better place gave him hope for the future. They deal with grief differently, and they should each manage it as they see fit. He hopes, however, that they will grieve his passing only as long as necessary. They have much good work to do, and they should get busy doing it. Time is flying by. His son-in-law, Ben, also survives him. Jim loved Ben, who was as a son to Jim, especially through these last months.
His aunts Jean, Dorothy and Florence, numerous cousins and their families, and many devoted friends also survive Jim. He loved them all, and he knows they loved him.
Jim received his BA at Wittenberg University and his MFA at Columbia. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Nu Zeta 624, a life-long Lutheran, and a longtime member of both the AMC and ACLU.
Jim was fortunate enough to earn his living doing what he loved. He was a professional actor. His unions were always there for him, and he will remain forever grateful for the benefits he gained as a result of the union struggle. Without his exceptional teachers and the representation of the best agents in the business, he wouldn’t have had much of a career. He was a lucky man in every way.
–Jim Rebhorn, March 2014
Nary a mention of a movie, nary a name dropped. This guy was in EVERYTHING, and made his obit all about his family, which he should, obviously. But I would’ve included a quote from Sean Penn or something, because I’m way more horrible than James Rebhorn.
What a lucky, precious gift to be a character actor, getting just the right amount of excited recognition, just the right amount of money, and still get to do the thing you love so much. We always think of actors as either huge stars or waiters, and James Reborn was in the awesome in-between that makes his career even more special. At least I think so.
I know a few people who knew they would soon pass away, and I don’t know that any of them wrote their own obituary. Would you write yours if you knew death was right around the corner? I don’t know if I could, but I can’t imagine mine would be anywhere as humble, graceful, or pure as James Rebhorn’s.
May he rest in peace.