Ricky Jay, an actor, and magician, known by entertainment business insiders for his spontaneous appearances in film and television, notably, Boogie Nights, has passed away. He was 72-years-old.
According to his manager, Winston Simone, he died due to natural causes in his home in Los Angeles, however, Simone didn’t indicate precisely when he passed. As fans of Jay know, he appeared in television series and films, including Tomorrow Never Dies, Magnolia, Boogie Nights, and the HBO series, Deadwood.
Ricky was an expert on con-men and unusual characters throughout history and was known for his extensive knowledge of such individuals. For that reason, Ricky was consulted for Ocean’s Thirteen as well as Forrest Gump among other films.
The magician performed in front of packed audiences for years throughout his career, impressing other magicians, especially in the case of one famous trick, where he would pierce a watermelon with a playing card flung into the air.
Ricky wrote a few books as well on magicians and their art form, including Dice, Deception, Fate, and Rotten Luck. Moreover, he once wrote a book on one of his favorite figures, Matthias Buchinger, an 18th century German who didn’t have any legs or hands.
In a 2015 exhibit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, a collection of artifacts related to the German magician were featured. Jay worked with David Mamet several times, who played a role in the creation of his aptly titled show, Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants.
Later on in his career, Mamet produced his performance, Ricky Jay: On The Stem, and played to audiences for around half a year. The Associated Press praised it in their review, saying it was a journey through New York history that had been long forgotten.
Furthermore, Jay appeared in other Mamet films such as Heist, State and Main, as well as House Of Games. Due to his extensive expertise and knowledge regarding magicians and other particular individuals, Hollywood directors and producers have looked to him for information in many other movies as well, including The Illusionist. He is survived by his wife, Chrisann Verges.