Actor James Rebhorn wrote his own (lovely) obituary

James Rebhorn was a character actor known to many by his face and to relatively few by his name. Most recently he was part of the “Homeland” ensemble, but that credit barely scratched the surface of his extensive résumé.

After his death last Friday from melanoma at age 65, he was fittingly remembered in an obituary written by the one who knew him best: Jim Rebhorn.

Yes, Rebhorn wrote his own obit, expressing his feelings for his late parents and to each of his survivors as he mentioned them warmly and personally. He wrote of himself in third person, and described those in his life in loving terms, painting quite a picture of how he saw the people who were important to him.

The actor was diagnosed with skin cancer in 1992, and the condition had worsened recently to the point where he had been receiving hospice care at his New Jersey home, his wife Rebecca told TMZ. He’d been on stage as lately as early January, however, in the play “Too Much, Too Much, Too Many,” which closed Jan. 5.


According to his self-penned obituary, his mother “taught him the value of good manners and courtesy, and that hospitality is no small thing,” while from his father “Jim learned that there is no excuse for poor craftsmanship. A job well done rarely takes more or less time than a job poorly done.” They also gave him his Lutheran faith, which he said he maintained thoughout his life.

Of his wife and two daughters, he said, “They anchored his life and gave him the freedom to live it. Without them, always at the center of his being, his life would have been little more than a vapor.”

He had a wish for his daughters: “They deal with grief differently, and they should each manage it as they see fit. He hopes, however, that they will grieve his passing only as long as necessary. They have much good work to do, and they should get busy doing it. Time is flying by.”

His aunts, his son-in-law and even his unions, teachers and reps are mentioned. The full obituary can be read here.

“He was a lucky man in every way,” Rebhorn concluded.

In contrast, the Los Angeles Times’ obit, like many others, closed with the usual, “In addition to his wife, Rebhorn is survived by daughters Emma Rebhorn Feldman and Hannah Rebhorn.”

A personal touch makes all the difference.


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