Ken Jacobson, one of the pioneers of talent management, died unexpectedly on Tuesday after more than three decades as a manager. I hear he was found unresponsive in his home. The cause of death is still being determined.
For 20 years, Jacobson was a founding partner of management firm James/Levy/Jacobson. Working alongside his partners, Jacobson was involved in launching the careers of such actors as James and Dave Franco, Jennie Garth, Jaimie Alexander, Michelle Williams, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mena Suvari and Erika Christensen. He signed Hilary Swank when she was 15, represented her for 10 years and helped her get Boys Don’t Cry, which earned her an Oscar. He also signed Ben Foster at the age of 12 and repped him for 20 years.
Jacobson’s career started in 1975 as an actor. For 10 years he appeared in theater in New York, including playing the role of David in the 1983 Tony Award-winning play Torch Song Trilogy.
After leaving acting, Jacobson worked for a short time in ABC Primetime casting in New York before moving to Los Angeles to begin a career in talent management, co-founding James/Levy/Jacobson in 1986.
After two decades at the company, in 2006, Jacobson left to launch his own company, Ken Jacobson Management.
Some of Jacobson’s longtime clients at the time of his death include Logan Browning (Netflix’s Dear White People), who was just nominated for her first NAACP Image Award, Summer Bishil (SyFy’s The Magicians) and Efren Ramirez (Napoleon Dynamite).
In addition to being a manager, Jacobson also produced several films, including Zack And Reba, with Brittany Murphy, Thomas Jane and Debbie Reynolds, Kounterfeit, starring Hilary Swank, Ben Foster, and Mark Paul Gosselaar, and James Franco’s first directing effort, the short film Kyle.
Jacobson is survived by his wife and two sons.
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