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

Ricky Jay, a master magician who also acted in films and TV shows such as “Boogie Nights,” “House of Games” and “Deadwood,” died Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 72.

Jay’s manager, Winston Simone, said he died of natural causes, adding, “He was one of a kind. We will never see the likes of him again.”

His attorney Stan Coleman confirmed his death. His partner in the Deceptive Practices company, Michael Weber, tweeted, “I am sorry to share that my remarkable friend, teacher, collaborator and co-conspirator is gone.”

A New Yorker profile called him “the most gifted sleight of hand artist alive,” and Jay was also known for his card tricks and memory feats.

He appeared in several David Mamet movies, including “House of Games,” “The Spanish Prisoner,” “Things Change,” “Redbelt” and “State and Main.”

Steve Martin, with whom he appeared in “The Spanish Prisoner,” described Jay in the New Yorker profile, “I sort of think of Ricky as the intellectual élite of magicians. He’s expertly able to perform and yet he knows the theory, history, literature of the field.”

In “Deadwood,” he played card sharp Eddie Sawyer during the first season, and also wrote for the show.

In the 1997 James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies,” Jay played a cyber-terrorist to Pierce Brosnan’s Bond.

He also provided the narration for movies such as Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia.” His one-man Broadway show directed by Mamet, “Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants,” was recorded for an HBO special in 1996.

With Weber, he created the Deceptive Practices company, which provided solutions to movies and TV productions such as the wheelchair that hid Gary Sinise’s legs in “Forrest Gump.” They also worked on films including “The Prestige,” “The Illusionist” and “Oceans Thirteen.”

Jay, who was born Richard Jay Potash in Brooklyn, was introduced to magic by his grandfather. He began performing in New York, opening for rock bands. Jay first worked in film with on Caleb Deschanel’s “The Escape Artist.”

A documentary about his life, “Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay,” was released in 2012.

A student of all facets of magic, prestidigitation and trickery, he maintained a large library of historic works and wrote two books, as well as numerous articles for the New Yorker; he also frequently lectured at museums and universities.

LADY GAGA COVERS VARIETY

 

More TV

  • Claire Danes as Carrie in HOMELAND,

    Lesli Linka Glatter Breaks Down the Beginning of the End of 'Homeland'

    The idea that Showtime’s “Homeland” is drawing to an end after eight seasons hasn’t quite sunken in yet for executive producer Lesli Linka Glatter. “It’s bittersweet,” she admits. “In any career, you only get a few of these where the material is incredible, challenging and provocative.” But although she is already onto scouting locations for [...]

  • Dave Review

    'Dave': TV Review

    FXX’s new comedy “Dave” exists in thrall to the phallus. Its protagonist (played by the rapper Dave “Lil Dicky” Burd in a sort of takeoff on his career and persona) is both obsessed by and ashamed of his anatomy, about whose particularities we come to learn in granular detail as the show’s early going wears [...]

  • 'Day of the Dead' Series Ordered

    'Day of the Dead' Series Ordered at Syfy

    Syfy has a brain-eating series in mind. The network has issued a 10-episode order for a show inspired by George A. Romero’s classic zombie movie “Day of the Dead.” The remake will tell the intense story of six strangers trying to survive the first 24 hours of an undead invasion. It is described as an [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Everything Coming to Netflix in March

    Netflix is adding a robust line-up of popular programs to its slate in March. In addition to rom-coms like Matthew Mcconaughey’s “Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past,” “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “Always a Bridesmaid,” the streamer is also adding a few classics like “Goodfellas” and “The Shawshank Redemption” starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. [...]

  • BREEDERS "No Sleep" Episode 1 (Airs

    'Breeders' Starring Martin Freeman and Daisy Haggard: TV Review

    Countless TV shows have been driven by the basic (if undeniable) sentiment that raising kids is, in fact, very hard. The latest to embrace it is FX’s “Breeders,” a new comedy from Martin Freeman and “The Thick of It” writers Chris Addison and Simon Blackwell that lets its harried adults admit, over and over again, [...]

  • Weinstein Juror CBS This Morning

    Harvey Weinstein Juror Says Conviction Was Not Influenced by #MeToo Movement

    A juror who served on the Harvey Weinstein trial says the conviction of the former movie mogul was based solely on the crimes on which he was charged in the courtroom — not on the #MeToo movement. “There is no message,” the juror said. “We were there to do a job, to make a decision, [...]

  • liz-claman-fox-business

    Fox Business Skips Commercial Breaks to Cover Coronavirus (But Still Has a Sponsor)

    Liz Claman’s recent ahead-of-the-curve coverage of the effects of the coronavirus crisis on the stock market has been brought to you by TD Ameritrade. But the online broker hasn’t interrupted her Fox Business Network program once in the past three days to make its marketing point. The anchor’s “The Claman Countdown” has been running without [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content