Ricky Jay (b. 1948)


Ricky Jay's Real Name

Richard Jay Potash




Magician, Actor, Author, Lecturer

Place of Birth

Brooklyn, New York, USA


5' 6"






Ricky possesses the ability of superior sleight-of hand skills and specializes in card tricks, card throwing, feats of memory, and unparalleled stage patter.

Interesting Fact

Up until recently Jay was listed in the Guinness Book of Records for throwing a playing card 190 feet at 90 miles per hour (the current record is 216 feet, by Rick Smith, Jr.).


Ricky Jay was born Richard Potash in Brooklyn, New York, 1948 to a middle class Jewish family.

His grandfather, Max Katz, a certified public accountant and one of the great amateur magicians of the day, introduced Jay to the world of magic at the age of four.

Young Jay's remarkable display of conjuring skills grabbed his families attention; they felt that Jay might have a marketable talent in the magic industry.

In his early adulthood, Jay continued to hone his skills in manipulation, working as a bartender who did magic at resorts in the upstate New York community of Lake George.

After graduating from Cornell University, he worked as a barker and sideshow performer with a traveling circus.

In the 1970s, Jay brought his sideshow act to night spots and theaters, where he performed tricks and stunts, and was in opening shows for such performers as Tina Turner, Emmylou Harris, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

His career path took a decisive turn in 1982 when he was asked to design the magic effects for the New York Shakespeare Public Theatre's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," starring William Hurt.

In 1989, Jay conjured up a TV special entitled "Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women" which was based on his 1986 book of the same title.

He then acted in the pilot episode of the ABC legal drama series "Civil Wars" and worked with Mamet again for the thriller "Homicide" (1991).

At least two of his shows, "Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants," and "On the Stem," were directed by David Mamet, who has cast Jay in a number of his films.

He has also appeared in a stream of films by other directors, notably "Boogie Nights" and "The Prestige."

In 2004, Jay joined the cast and crew of the HBO western drama "Deadwood" as a guest star and writer for the first season.

The series was created by David Milch and focused on a flourishing town in the American West.

Jay played card sharp "Eddie Sawyer," a dealer in the casino of ambitious newcomer Cy Tolliver.

Jay wrote the episode "Jewel's Boot Is Made for Walking". He left the series at the end of the first season.

Jay created a consulting firm called "Deceptive Practices," which provides "Arcane Knowledge on a Need-To-Know Basis."

Among his firm's clients are the stage, television and film industries.

He has worked with libraries and museums on their collections, including the "Mulholland Library of Conjuring," the "Museum of Jurassic Technology," and the "Allied Arts" in Los Angeles.

When not performing, Ricky Jay collects rare books and magic memorabilia. He is the author of several books including, "Jay's Journal of Anomalies," "Cards As Weapons;" "Dice: Deception, Fate, and Rotten Luck," and "Ricky Jay Plays Poker."

For more information, visit Ricky Jay's official website.

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