When veteran character actor James Rebhorn died of skin cancer over the weekend at the age of 65, few of us knew that he had already written his own obituary. Having been diagnosed with melanoma in 1992, Rebhorn was reportedly inspired to write his own obit after appearing in a play about a woman who had done just that. If only Rebhorn had circulated this to the media sooner, he could’ve saved me literally tens of minutes of work.
Here’s the obit, entitled “My Life, According to Jim.”
James Robert Rebhorn was born on Sept. 1, 1948, in Philadelphia, PA. His mother, Ardell Frances Rebhorn, nee Hoch, loved him very much and supported all his dreams. She taught him the value of good manners and courtesy, and that hospitality is no small thing. His father, James Harry Rebhorn, was no less devoted to him. From him, 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 gave him his faith and wisely encouraged him to stay in touch with God. He is survived by his sister, Janice Barbara Galbraith, of Myrtle Beach, SC. She was his friend, his confidant, and, more often than either of them would like to admit, his bridge over troubled waters.
He is also survived by his wife, Rebecca Fulton Linn, and his two daughters, Emma Rebecca Rebhorn and Hannah Linn Rebhorn. 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. Rebecca loved him with all his flaws, and in her the concept of ceaseless love could find no better example. His children made him immensely proud. Their dedication to improving our species and making the world a better place gave him hope for the future. 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 son-in-law, Ben, also survives him. Jim loved Ben, who was as a son to Jim, especially through these last months.
His aunts Jean, Dorothy and Florence, numerous cousins and their families, and many devoted friends also survive Jim. He loved them all, and he knows they loved him. Jim received his BA at Wittenberg University and his MFA at Columbia. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Nu Zeta 624, a life-long Lutheran, and a longtime member of both the AMC and ACLU. Jim was fortunate enough to earn his living doing what he loved. He was a professional actor. His unions were always there for him, and he will remain forever grateful for the benefits he gained as a result of the union struggle. Without his exceptional teachers and the representation of the best agents in the business, he wouldn’t have had much of a career. He was a lucky man in every way. [via HollywoodReporter]
Well, he’s no Royal Tenenbaum, but that was damned classy. Just like he lived. I don’t know that I’d be able to be this gracious and content in my own obit. Mine would probably be something more like “Mourn me like a Viking chieftain, or a minor deity. Pile my belongings into a large raft, soak them with accelerant, to be set adrift and ignited with the embers from your brightest fireworks, on the first international holiday declared for the occasion. Include with it my servants and concubines so that I may not face the abyss alone. Meanwhile, preserve my body in the coldest cryogenics facility and set the nation’s leading scientists to work tireless attempting to reanimate my tissue. If my body is broken and happens to make an unsuitable vessel, my top choices of future body are as follows: 1. Nuclear-powered cyborg. 2. Grizzly Bear. 3. Bald Eagle. 4. Rhinocerous…”
Not James Rebhorn though, he was a gracious dude. Though it is unfortunate that his obituary had to share a title with Jim Belushi’s sitcom. They probably should’ve caught that during the vetting process.