Rest In Peace: Ricky Jay (1946 – 2018)

Rest In Peace: Ricky Jay (1946 – 2018)

Friends, with an incredibly heavy heart I share the news that Ricky Jay passed away on Saturday at age 72. My first reaction is to say that the World of Magic will be forever a little bit darker without Jay performing sleight of hand and card throwing feats…but while I never personally met Ricky Jay I have the feeling he wouldn’t care for me saying something so grandiose. Here is the truth of the matter – the World has lost an exceptional performer of prestidigitation in addition to a scholar and teacher of the staggering history of the art itself.

[Via] VHS Video Vault

Ricky Jay much like his skill at sleight of hand or feats of memory was not just amazing to watch but mysterious – something that applied to his personal life as well. While that birth date I included in the header at the top of this article states 1946 it’s been suggested it might even be 1948. However as the exceptional 2012 documentary entitled Deceptive Practices: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay proved – he didn’t care to discuss much of his youth – beyond the fact his Grandfather was an amateur magician who not only aided in instilling a love of magic in Jay as a young boy but introduced him to other performers such as Dai Vernon and Charlie Miller.

[Via] American Masters PBS

Jay in addition to being a celebrated sleight of hand artist and entertainer was also an Author, writing books on such subjects as circus performers, unusual phenomenon, legendary con men, and ways to cheat at dice. Furthermore Ricky Jay was known to be incredibly proficient at the art of throwing cards – as a matter of fact his 1977 Cards as Weapons book goes for anywhere from 72 dollars for a paperback edition to 500 bucks for a hardcover volume.

[Via] Presty Gomez

Jay was known as an actor too, appearing in Simon & Simon, The Spanish Prisoner, Boogie Nights, Tomorrow Never Dies, Mystery Men and Magnolia to name a few. It wasn’t just Paul Thomas Anderson films that Ricky Jay appeared in but David Mamet pictures too. Having said all that however that is NOT where I first saw Jay as an actor – that privilege went to the exceptional January 16, 2000 episode of The X-Files entitled The Amazing Maleeni where the magician played…well…a magician.

[Via] The X-Files Forever

As has been quoted in numerous reports of the passing of Ricky Jay – Steve Martin, who appeared with the Magician in 1997’s The Spanish Prisoner had this to say in the April 5, 1993 issue of The New Yorker:
“I sort of think of Ricky as the intellectual élite of magicians. I’ve had experience with magicians my whole life. He’s expertly able to perform and yet he knows the theory, history, literature of the field. Ricky’s a master of his craft. You know how there are those teachers of creative writing who can’t necessarily write but can teach? Well, Ricky can actually do everything.”
Ricky Jay - Deceptive Practices

With the passing of Harry Anderson and now Ricky Jay – two practitioners of prestidigitation and showmanship – this has been a rough year.

But much like with Harry, Jay left us a beautiful gift as his legacy – entertainment that will continue to enthrall new audiences and amaze us one and all.


Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.

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