LOS ANGELES (NBC News) — 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 elite of magicians. He’s expertly able to perform and yet he knows the theory, history, literature of the field.”
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.