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Ricky Jay, Master Magician and ‘Boogie Nights’ Actor, Dies at 72

He also appeared in "Deadwood," "The Prestige," and "Magnolia," among others.

Ricky Jay'Leap Of Faith' opening night, New York, America - 26 Apr 2012

Ricky Jay


Ricky Jay, a singularly skilled magician whose acting career included roles in “Deadwood” and “Boogie Nights,” died in Los Angeles yesterday. He was 72. The news was confirmed by Jay’s manager, Winston Simone, who said that he died of natural causes and “was one of a kind. We will never see the likes of him again.”

“I am sorry to share that my remarkable friend, teacher, collaborator and co-conspirator is gone,” tweeted Michael Weber, Jay’s partner in the Deceptive Practices Company.

Jay was the subject of a 2012 documentary, “Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay,” directed by Molly Bernstein. It explored his revered career as a magician, as did a 1993 New Yorker profile that referred to Jay as “perhaps the most gifted sleight of hand artist alive.” Those talents also brought him work as a behind-the-scenes consultant on movies like “The Prestige,” “The Illusionist,” and “Ocean’s Thirteen.”

“Boogie Nights” wasn’t Jay’s only collaboration with Paul Thomas Anderson, as he also had a role in “Magnolia”; his most frequent collaborator was David Mamet, however, as he appeared in “House of Games,” “The Spanish Prisoner,” “State and Main,” “Redbelt,” and “Things Change.”

Born Richard Jay Potash on June 26, 1946 in Brooklyn, Jay was the first and only magician profiled on PBS’ “American Masters.” He also wrote and lectured on magic extensively throughout his life, touring colleges and authoring several books. His final onscreen appearance was in 2015’s “The Automatic Hate.”

Tributes have been pouring in:

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