Magician and ‘Boogie Nights’ star Ricky Jay dies aged 72

The star died in Los Angeles on Saturday

Veteran magician and star of Boogie Nights, Ricky Jay, has passed away.

Jay passed away from natural causes in Los Angeles this Saturday (24 November,) his management have confirmed.

Speaking to Variety, his manager Winston Simone said: “He was one of a kind. We will never see the likes of him again.”


Real name Ricky Jay Potash, the musician was born in 1946 in New York to middle-class Jewish parents. He rose to prominence as a magician, which took him to Hollywood as a consultant.

Jay garnered a legion of fans, including playwright and filmmaker David Mamet, who not only directed three of his one-man shows but also cast him in several of his movies, including The Spanish Prisoner and State and Main.

Jay went on to appear in a number of big ticket films – including Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights in 1977.

His acting credits also included Magnolia, Deadwood and Tomorrow Never Dies, as well as magician moves Illusionist and The Prestige.

As well as performing, the magician co-founded company Deceptive Practices, which worked as an advisory to films, providing “Arcane Knowledge on a Need-to-Know Basis.” The company’s work included designing the wheelchair that hid Gary Sinise’s legs in Forrest Gump and a self-drinking glass in Congo.


In 2012, a documentary following Jay’s life was released, titled Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay.

Celebrities including writer Stephen Fry and magician Penn Jillette have paid tribute.

Fry wrote: “Sorry to hear of Ricky Jay’s death. He had the chops alright. Saw him and his “52 Assistants” (in an air conditioned tent to keep his fingertips dry) and was blown away. Impossible feats. His book “Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women” a masterpiece.”

While Jillette – of Penn & Teller fame – wrote: “Oh man, Ricky Jay. Just a genius. One of the best who ever lived. We’ll all miss you, Ricky. Oh man.”

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