Actor James Rebhorn dies at 65

James Rebhorn, who had more than 100 movie and TV credits to his name, dies at 65

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 March, 2014, 12:17am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 March, 2014, 12:17am

He was a neurosurgeon, a shipping magnate, a pompous headmaster, an autocratic father. He was the self-inflated authority figure whose long, narrow, aristocratic face was as well-known in films and television as his name was obscure.

James Rebhorn, a journeyman character actor seen most recently as the father of super-spy Carrie Mathison in Homeland, died on Friday at his home in the US state of New Jersey, of melanoma, his wife, Rebecca Linn, said. He was 65.

Rebhorn had more than 100 television and movie credits, including roles in Scent of a Woman and My Cousin Vinny - both released in 1992 - and Meet the Parents (2000). In the 1998 finale of Seinfeld, he played a district attorney who prosecuted the show's four main characters for idly standing by as a fat man was robbed at gunpoint.

"This group from New York not only ignored but, as we will prove, mocked the victim," Rebhorn's District Attorney Hoyt declaimed before a small-town jury. "You will see how everyone who has come in contact with these individuals has been abused, wronged, deceived and betrayed."

While Rebhorn succeeded in putting away Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer - a result the actor later described as "very satisfying" - his characters were often undone by their own treachery.

With his receding hairline and bony face, the lanky Rebhorn was often recognised, but not quite famous.

"It's extremely uncomfortable when people come up and say, 'Don't I know you?'," he said in 2007.

"They have this odd sense of ownership. The only safe place is at home or in the theatre."

Born on September 1, 1948, in Philadelphia, James Robert Rebhorn grew up in Indiana. Although he acted in high school, he planned to be a Lutheran minister and headed to church-affiliated Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.

"It was after I got there that I began to explore and experiment and search out other things in life," Rebhorn said.

Leading a quiet life in suburban New Jersey, Rebhorn was distinctly un-Hollywood.

"Whenever I go out of town, the first thing I do is reach for a Yellow Pages so I can find where the Lutheran church is," he told an interviewer. "And a laundromat."

In addition to his wife, Rebhorn is survived by daughters Emma Rebhorn Feldman and Hannah Rebhorn.