Ricky Jay was born Richard Jay Potash on June 26, 1946 in Brooklyn, NY, and grew up in Elizabeth, NJ. He harbored a passion for magic from an early age, and began performing publicly as early as four years of age. He started out performing on local television and at comedy clubs and nightclubs in New York City. Jay lived and performed in the Lake George, NY area in his 20s, before relocating to Los Angeles, CA. His career as a sleight-of-hand magician blossomed, thanks in part to appearances on late night talk shows, earning Jay great notability and even led him to work in other areas of show business, including acting and writing. His first book, Cards as Weapons (1977), was critically revered, and praise attached to follow-up publications. Jay developed a rapport with director David Mamet, appearing in his films "House of Games" (1987), "Things Change" (1988), "Homicide" (1991). In the early 1990s, Jay co-founded a consulting firm called Deceptive Practices that lent his talents as an illusionist to film productions. After appearing in "The Spanish Prisoner" (1997), Jay expanded his acting reach beyond the realm of Mamet, appearing in the James Bond movie "Tomorrow Never Dies" (1997) and working twice with filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, appearing in "Boogie Nights" (1997) and providing narration for "Magnolia" (1999). On the small screen, Jay lent his talents both as an actor and a writer to the Western drama "Deadwood" (HBO 2004-06). He regularly channeled his talents and persona as an illusionist in his film appearances, notably in Christopher Nolan's "The Prestige" (2006) and the Tom Hanks-starring "The Great Buck Howard" (2008). Jay was ultimately the subject of the documentary "Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay" (2012). On Nov. 24, 2018, Jay died at the age of 72.
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Acted in CBS variety special, "Like Magic"
Cast as Philostrate in the NY Shakespeare Festival production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in Central Park
Served as technical advisor for "The Escape Artist"
After meeting playwright David Mamet and lecturing to his acting class, served as an advisor on Mamet's play "The Shawl"
Served as curator of the Mulholland Library of Conjuring and Allied Arts in Century City, California
Feature acting debut as a sleazy Las Vegas con man in Mamet's feature directorial debut, "House of Games"; also served as a consultant for confidence games
Reteamed with Mamet for a role in "Things Change"
Hosted CBS special, "Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women"; also produced, based on his 1986 book
Third film with Mamet, "Homicide"
Acted in an episode of the ABC series "Civil Wars"
Was the cons and frauds consultant for "Leap of Faith" starring Steve Martin
Portrayed ratty investor in "The Water Engine" (TNT), adapted from the Mamet play
Worked as sleight of hand consultant on "Sneakers"
Designed the illusion wheelchair for "Forrest Gump"
Was a consultant on Charles Shyer's "I Love Trouble"
Wrote and produced solo stage show, "Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants"; directed off-Broadway by Mamet
Provided martini illusion for "Congo"
Appeared in HBO's special presentation of "Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants"
Hosted the A&E special "The Story of Magic"
Portrayed George Lang in Mamet's "The Spanish Prisoner"; film also featured Steve Martin
Acted the part of computer expert Henry Gupta in "Tomorrow Never Dies"
Costarred in the cult hit film "Boogie Nights" (1997).
Appeared on UPN's "The Virtual Ed Sullivan Show"
Appeared in the London production of "Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants"
Portrayed Vic Weems in "Mystery Men"
Reteamed with Anderson for "Magnolia"
Made memorable guest appearance on "The X-Files" as an illusionist with a gambling problem
Appeared on and wrote for the Western drama series "Deadwood" (HBO 2004-06).
Played 'Milton the Magician' in Christopher Nolan's "The Prestige"
Featured in the David Mamet directed, "Redbelt"
Narrated Rian Johnson's sophomore feature "The Brothers Bloom"
Was a recurring presence on "Flashforward"
Was the subject of the documentary "Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay" (2012).
Played uncle Josh in "The Automatic Hate"