A very familiar face to television and film audiences of the past four decades has passed away. Actor James Rebhorn, perhaps best known to current audiences for his role as FBI Special Agent Reese Hughes on USA’s White Collar and on Homeland as the father of CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), passed away Friday at the age of 65.
Rebhorn died after a long battle with melanoma, which he was first diagnosed with in 1992. He passed surrounded by his family at his home in South Orange, New Jersey.
His representative Dianne Busch of Leading Artist told Deadline: “He was a wonderful, wonderful man. I represented him since 1990, and I represented him for my entire career.”
Busch went on to praise Rebhorn’s character and career choices, saying:
“He was an absolute joy to work with. He was very funny and was warm. He was drawn to projects with a social conscience. One of his favorite movies that he did was ‘Lorenzo’s Oil’ because it made a difference. He had a very strong faith and loved his family. His family was extremely important to him and I saw him make career sacrifices for them.”
James Robert Rebhorn was born on September 1, 1948 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His family moved to Indiana while he was a child and he went on to study political science at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio before moving to New York City. He graduated from Columbia University’s School of Arts with an MFA in acting.
Rebhorn began his career on the stage, recently starring in Too Much, Too Much, Too Many at New York’s Roundabout Theater Company, and also appeared in the original stage production of I’m Not Rapaport along with revivals of Our Town and 12 Angry Men. He debuted on television in the 1980s with roles on Guiding Light, As The World Turns, Spencer For Hire, The Equalizer, Law & Order, and many more, including several Kojak TV movies.
Rebhorn was a prominent and prolific character actor, and appeared in dozens of film roles, the most notable of them being the Secretary of Defense in Independence Day, his pivotal role as the smarmy, shady Jim Feingold in David Fincher’s The Game, his uptight, patrician plastic surgeon in Meet The Parents, and the shipping magnate Herbert Greenleaf, who set Matt Damon’s Tom Ripley on his serial killing path in The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Rebhorn was one of the best character actors in the business, and specialized in roles requiring a certain air of WASP-ish authority – doctors, lawyers, politicians, and so on. He was equally adept at drama and comedy; just watch his guest role as a weirdo dentist on 30 Rock or, better yet, as Democratic Senator Bill Arnot in Chris Rock’s Head of State, in which he puts director-writer-star Rock’s unknown alderman up as the first black Presidential candidate in order to (somehow) clear the path for himself.
The plan backfires, much to the delightfully droll Rebhorn’s horror – he switches from charming to manipulative to fuming so brilliantly that his performance is one of the best things about that movie.
Rebhorn’s most recent well-known turns on White Collar and Homeland have proven to be as memorable as anything in his career. His role as Carrie’s father Frank Mathison was a riveting scene-stealer. Like his daughter, Frank suffered from bipolar disorder, but unlike his daughter, he learned to manage his illness, though toward the end of his life could not live alone. Frank existed as something of a future mirror for Carrie, but also a comfort. He was never less than subtle and terrific in a difficult role.
James Rebhorn was a warm, welcome presence in everything he appeared in, and even if his name was not readily known to everyone in the crowd, we were always happy to see him. He is survived by his wife, Rebecca Linn, and their daughters Hannah and Emma.
Everyone here at Screen Rant would like to express our sincere and heartfelt condolences to James Rebhorn’s family and friends in this sad time.
R.I.P. James Robert Rebhorn: September 1, 1948 – March 21, 2014