New York Theater Industry Saddened by Loss of James Rebhorn

James Rebhorn
James Rebhorn
 Associated Press

NEW YORK – James Rebhorn, who died Friday at age 65 at his home in New Jersey after a long battle with melanoma, never neglected his theater roots.

He was a well-known face for his memorable supporting roles in films such as Independence Day, Meet the Parents, The Talented Mr. Ripley and Scent of a Woman, as well as television roles in Homeland, Law & Order and countless other series, but Rebhorn's appearances on Broadway stretched over almost 30 years.

Despite being a consistently in-demand character actor in better-paying screen gigs, Rebhorn made time whenever possible to return to the stage, both in major-name revivals and new works by unestablished playwrights.

The lanky Philadelphia native first joined the New York theater scene after earning an MFA in acting from Columbia University in 1972.

He made his Broadway debut in 1979 in Eric Bentley's drama Are You Now or Have You Ever Been, about the House Un-American Activities Committee investigation into alleged Communist figures in show business. He returned in 1985 in Herb Gardner's hit comedy, I'm Not Rappaport.

Rebhorn had a long association with the Roundabout Theatre Company, appearing on Broadway in three productions for the non-profit: Arthur Miller's The Man Who Had All the Luck in 2002, with Chris O'Donnell; a popular 2004 revival of Reginald Rose's courtroom drama, Twelve Angry Men, with an all-male ensemble that included Philip Bosco and Boyd Gaines; and his last Broadway appearance, in Craig LucasPrelude to a Kiss, in 2007, with John Mahoney, Annie Parisse and Alan Tudyk.

"James Rebhorn was not only a brilliant actor, but the kindest, gentlest and most respected man I've ever worked with," said Roundabout artistic director Todd Haimes. "He was truly a member of the Roundabout family, and we will miss him."

Also for Roundabout, Rebhorn appeared Off Broadway in 2007 in J.T. RogersThe Overwhelming, and in his final New York stage appearance played a father suffering from Alzheimer's last November in Meghan Kennedy's Too Much, Too Much, Too Many, part of the Roundabout Underground initiative for emerging artists.

His other Broadway roles included two productions for Lincoln Center Theater: a 1988 revival of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, in an ensemble that featured Spalding Gray, Frances Conroy, William H. Macy and Eric Stoltz; and a 2002 revival of George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's drawing-room comedy Dinner at Eight, with Marian Seldes, Christine Ebersole and Kevin Conway.

He appeared Off Broadway in LCT's 2008 production of Noah Haidle's Saturn Returns, and in plays for other leading New York theater companies, including Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club and the Public Theater. He was also a member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre.

Among Rebhorn's early Off Broadway work was a part in the Public’s 1979 Shakespeare in the Park summer staging of Othello, headlined by Raul Julia as the title character, Richard Dreyfuss as Iago and Conroy as Desdemona. 

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