Amidst the swirl of sensationalism surrounding the death of a “caretaker” at the Brentwood home of actor Ving Rhames last week, many Torontonians were unaware that the victim, 40-year-old Jacob Adams, was a local actor and screenwriter.
“If hard work was enough to make it in Hollywood, then Jacob should have been a superstar,” says friend and acting colleague Janice Edwards. “My last Jacob sighting was just outside Albert’s on St. Clair West. He was happy and carefree—that’s how I’ll remember him.”
The incident was quick to hit the celebrity gossip websites because Adams was found with dog bites on his upper body and legs, though not on his neck and head. Rhames owns three bull mastiffs, which can weigh about 90 kilograms and are a protective breed, though generally docile under normal circumstances. The mastiffs and an English bulldog were conspicuously removed from the residence by authorities, causing the media to report that Adams had been mauled to death by the animals. Rhames was in the U.K. shooting a movie at the time.
Since then, an autopsy has determined that Adams did not die as a result of the bites, which were superficial and were allegedly incurred by the dogs pulling on him. Previous reports of a heart attack have also since been discounted, and Adams was found to have been perfectly healthy.
Jacob Adams and Rhames met on the Toronto set of the made-for-television film Kojak, which had been written by Adams. After striking a friendship, Adams moved to Los Angeles and lived with Rhames and his family, looking after Rhames’ properties and acting as his stand-in during film shoots. Rhames also starred in Animal 2, which was penned by Adams and is set for its DVD release early next month.
Born in Jamaica, Jacob Adams immigrated to Toronto in 1979 and began pursuing a career in the entertainment industry in 1989. Credits included work on Babylon, Dawn of the Dead, Earth Final Conflict, and Blues Brothers 2000, among other projects.
“I prefer not to think of how Jacob came to his end that day,” says Janice Edwards. “I see him in my mind’s eye in the scene in The Hurricane where Rubin Carter is finally released from prison. He is one of the cellmates celebrating—his hands held high in victory.”