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While Ricky Jay has long been considered one of the world’s great sleight of hand artists, his career is further distinguished by the remarkable variety of his accomplishments as a writer, actor, historian, and consultant. He is the author of Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women, and Jay’s Journal of Anomalies, both New York Times “Notable Books.” Among his other works are Dice: Deception, Fate and Rotten Luck; Extraordinary Exhibitions; Celebrations of Curious Characters and The Magic Magic Book produced for the Whitney Museum of American Art. He defined the terms of his profession for the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Cambridge Guide to American Theater. Ricky Jay Plays Poker, a boxed set of classic and esoteric gambling tunes with a DVD of his of sleight of hand performance, was nominated for a Grammy Award.
As an actor Mr. Jay has been seen in most of David Mamet’s movies including House of Games, Things Change, Spanish Prisoner, Heist and Red Belt. He has appeared in many other films including Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Last Days, Tomorrow Never Dies, The Prestige, and The Great Buck Howard. He played the gambler Eddie Sawyer on Deadwood and appeared on numerous other shows including his own television specials for CBS, HBO and the BBC.
With his partner Michael Weber, his consulting company, “Deceptive Practices,” has supplied “arcane knowledge on a need to know basis” for television, theater and more than a score of films including Forrest Gump, The Illusionist, and Oceans 13.
His one man shows, the Obie award-winning Ricky Jay & His 52 Assistants; Ricky Jay: On the Stem; and Ricky Jay: A Rogue’s Gallery, were all heralded theatrical events. The documentary Deceptive Practice: The Mentors and Mysteries of Ricky Jay debuted to acclaim at the New York Film Festival, and was listed as one of the top ten films of the year byEntertainment Weekly. This July he will host Ricky Jay’s Congress of Wonders, a three-day conference for the public on “Magic Appreciation” with diverse speakers and performers who will explore, expound, and confound while providing lively colloquy the art of conjuring.
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Judith W. L