It’s never an easy thing to write about the death of an entertainer, and it’s been happening more and more often recently. The latest talent to move behind the curtain is James Rebhorn, a character actor whose career began back in 1951 and has spanned all genres on television, film and the stage. Even if the name doesn't immediately conjure up a face, you will recognize him from dozens of projects over the years, from Homeland to Basic Instinct. And he's definitely what you remember from Basic Instinct.
The 65-year-old Rebhorn died due to complications from melanoma, first diagnosed back in 1992. His family was present as he peacefully passed in his South Orange, New Jersey home, according to Deadline, where he was receiving hospice care following his release from NYU Hospital.
Often a high-ranking member of the police or law office, Rebhorn was as busy as ever in recent years with recurring roles on USA’s White Collar, where his Special Agent Reese Hughes would sporadically show up to cause some trouble for Peter and Neal and their unorthodox methods of solving crimes, and on HBO's Enlightened as the peculiar CEO of Abaddon Industries, where Laura Dern’s Amy Jellicoe worked. But perhaps he'll be most missed as Homeland's Frank Mathison, the often frustrated father to the mentally unstable CIA agent played by Claire Danes.
But his most remembered film roles of the past involve being an expert in automobiles in My Cousin Vinny...
...and as the prep schoolmaster Mr. Trask opposite Al Pacino's speech-murdering Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman.
His acting resume also took him to the depressing drama of Lorenzo’s Oil, the gritty violence of Carlito’s Way, and the psycho mystery of The Game. Most recently, he played Mike Birbiglia’s father in Sleepwalk With Me and also starred in The Odd Life of Timothy Green and The Perfect Wedding. He was also well known to theater goes for his decades-long career on the stage, including performances of Our Town and Twelve Angry Men.
Back on the TV side of things, Rebhorn's early work included limited appearances on shows such as Wiseguy and Spenser: For Hire, but he really became a household face post-2000 in series such as Third Watch, The Practice and Law and Order. One particularly high note was his performance as the District Attorney for the ridiculous Seinfeld finale. But he was also quite memorable on Comedy Central’s Big Lake as comedian Chris Gethard’s father, and as a doctor in 30 Rock. Perhaps his most cult role of all was as supervillain John McFlemp on Nickelodeon’s The Adventures of Pete & Pete, seen below.
We at Cinema Blend pass on our condolences to his family and friends, and wish them the strength shown by many of Rebhorn's authoritative roles over the years.
Let us know your favorite Rebhorn role in the comments, and we now close with a picture of him standing next to the President of the United States, Thomas J. Whitmore.