Some talented actors find great fame and fortune; others, if they’re lucky, find something else: respect, a rich variety of roles, and a lifetime of steady work. The latter was true for James Rebhorn, one of those actors whose name you might not have recognized, but whose face and voice would have rung many bells. Rebhorn died this past weekend at the age of 65, leaving behind a moving self-penned obituary (do read it, it’s clear evidence that he was a wonderful guy) and a remarkable body of work, including the following:
- Recurring roles on the TV series “Homeland” (as Clare Danes’ father, Frank Mathison), “White Collar,” “Enlightened,” “Big Lake,” “Law & Order,” “Third Watch” and more.
- Memorable bit roles on shows like “30 Rock” (he was Liz Lemon’s beleaguered oral surgeon; who gave Liz a special pamphlet explaining when she could eat cheese again) and “Seinfeld” (the district attorney on the show’s finale).
- A busy stage career, including numerous dramatic roles on Broadway and with the Roundabout Theater Company
- A long string of movie roles, beginning in the 1970s, in which he often played a doctor (“Silkwood,” “Regarding Henry,” “Basic Instinct,” “Meet the Parents,” “Far from Heaven,” “Cold Mountain,” and “A Little Help”) — perhaps because his tall, thin frame looked good in a white coat and his patrician voice sounded authoritative. So often, he seemed to bring a wealth of untold story to a small role; such as that of Dickie Greenleaf’s father in “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (we knew little of Mr. Greenleaf, but Rebhorn implied a complex and interesting life behind the man) , “The Game,” “Scent of a Woman,” “Independence Day,” “Up Close & Personal,” “Lorenzo’s Oil,” and many more.
“He was a lucky man in every way,” is the closing sentence of Rebhorn’s obituary (signed “Jim Rebhorn); a marvelous exit line to a fine career.