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Ricky Jay (1946–2018), magician and character actor

by Kirk Fox

The sleight of hand master starred in “Boogie Nights”

Ricky Jay (1946–2018) was a magician and popular character actor. Known for his card tricks, he was considered to be one of the greatest hand of sleight magicians. He was a popular character actor, appearing in “Boogie Nights,” “The Prestige,” and “Heist.”

Jay was a favorite of David Mamet, appearing in his movies “House of Games,” “State and Main,” “The Spanish Prisoner,” and “Redbelt.”


He played card shark Eddie Sawyer on the HBO western series “Deadwood.”

Jay was born Richard Jay Potash in Brooklyn, New York. He began his magic career in New York City, opening for music acts including Ike and Tina Turner.

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Died: Saturday, November 24, 2018 (Who else died on November 24?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 72.

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What people said about him: “Rest In Peace, Ricky Jay.” “You were an unsurpassed artist and an exceptionally kind soul. I will miss you, xo, your pal, Louis.” —Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus

“Master magician and historian Ricky Jay has passed away. The breadth of his knowledge and appreciation for magic and the allied arts was truly remarkable. Such sad news, such a profound loss.” —Actor Neil Patrick Harris

“So gutted to hear about the passing of Ricky Jay. One of the kindest humans I’ve met. Had a glorious smile and laugh. Could listen to his stories for hours. He lived and breathed history. He was beyond special yet never showed it. Truly one of a kind.” —Actor Colin Hanks

Full obituary: Atlanta Journal Constitution

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