Ricky Jay, Beloved Magician and Actor, Dead at 72

Actor and famed magician Ricky Jay passed away Saturday of natural causes at the age of 72.

His attorney, Stan Coleman, confirmed his death to Variety, with his manager, Winston Simone, stating that Jay died of natural causes. Simone added that Jay "was one of a kind. We will never see the likes of him again."

Jay's partner in the Deceptive Practices company, Michael Weber, tweeted news of his passing on Saturday.

"I am sorry to share that my remarkable friend, teacher, collaborator and co-conspirator is gone," Weber wrote.

Along with his career as a magician, which he was introduced to by his grandfather, Jay is also well-known for his work on the big screen, with starring roles in notable films such as Boogie Nights, Tomorrow Never Dies, Magnolia and The Prestige. He also had various roles on television series, including The X-Files and Deadwood.

Following news of his death, those in Hollywood took to social media to remember him.

"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," Neil Patrick Harris wrote.

"Ricky Jay was a hero of mine. And when I met him, got to know him, work with him twice, his kindness, professionalism, sense of humor, brilliance, made him even more of a hero. He was one of the greatest entertainers of our lifetime. And a true genius," Billions co-creator and showrunner Brian Koppelman tweeted.

Throughout his career, Jay earned back-to-back Screen Actors Guild nominations for best film ensembles with his co-stars from Paul Thomas Anderson's films Boogie Nights and Magnolia as well as a National Board of Review Award win with his castmates from State and Main. However, it was his talent as a magician that set him apart in Hollywood.

In a 1993 profile of Jay in The New Yorker, Steve Martin said of Jay, "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."


A longtime member of the Academy of Magical Arts, Jay earned a Guinness World Record for how far he could throw a playing card and used his skills behind the scenes of a number of productions to help create illusions for movies.

Jay is survived by his wife, Chrisann Verges.