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Ricky Jay

Ricky Jay (born Richard Jay Potash; 1948) is an American stage magician, actor, and writer. He is considered one of the most knowledgeable and skilled sleight-of-hand experts in the United States. He is notable for his signature card tricks, card throwing, memory feats, and stage patter.


Jay was born in Brooklyn, New York to a middle class Jewish family. His grandfather, Max Katz, was a well-to-do certified public accountant and amateur magician who introduced Jay to the profession.

At least two of his shows, Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants and On the Stem, were directed by David Mamet, who has also cast Jay in a number of his films. Jay has appeared in productions by other directors, notably Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights and Magnolia, as well as The Prestige and season one of HBO's Deadwood as card sharp Eddie Sawyer.

Until recently, Jay was listed in the Guinness Book of Records for throwing a playing card 190 ft at 90 miles per hour (the current record is 216 ft, by Rick Smith, Jr.). Ricky Jay can throw a playing card into a watermelon rind (which he refers to as the "thick, pachydermatous outer melon layer" of "the most prodigious of household fruits") from ten paces.


Jay created a consulting firm, Deceptive Practices, which provides "arcane knowledge on a need-to-know basis." His firm's clients are often within the stage, television, and film industries. He has worked with libraries and museums on their collections, including the Mulholland Library of Conjuring and the Allied Arts and the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, CA.


Televised performances

Feature films


When not performing, Ricky Jay collects rare books and artifacts. He is the author of several books:

  • Extraordinary Exhibitions: The Wonderful Remains of an Enormous Head, The Whimsiphusicon & Death to the Savage Unitarians - a collection of 17th, 18th, and 19th-century broadsides
  • Jay's Journal of Anomalies
  • Dice: Deception, Fate, and Rotten Luck
  • Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women
  • Cards As Weapons
  • Ricky Jay Plays Poker


External links

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