The acclaimed sleight-of-hand magician was as famous for his ability to throw "Cards as Weapons" as he was for his memorable film and television performances.
Hollywood stars and fellow magicians took to social media Saturday night to pay tribute to the prolific talent Ricky Jay, who passed away Saturday at 72.
One of the most revered and famous magicians of his generation, Jay was able to parlay that success into a film and television career that included roles on such projects as "Magnolia," "Boogie Nights," "Heist," "The Prestige," "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "Deadwood," for which he had a recurring role and also served as a writer during the first season.
A sleight-of-hand magician, Jay's act was most associated with playing cards. He was listed for many years in the Guinness Book of Records for throwing a playing card at 90 mph for 190 feet. This was a feat he would perform countless times in public appearances live and on television.
He even filmed a card-throwing sequence while a Bond villain, but things didn't go exactly as planned and the bit ultimately got cut from the film. That said, he did warn them:
So popular was his ability it even became the subject of his first book, the cult classic "Cards as Weapons." He would go on to write several more quirky and highly entertaining books as part of his deep study into the history of illusion and magic.
"The breadth of his knowledge and appreciation for magic and the allied arts was truly remarkable," tweeted fellow actor/magician Neil Patrick Harris. "Such sad news, such a profound loss."
"Just a genius," Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) wrote of Jay. "One of the best who ever lived."
Beyond his mastery of the magical arts, many from Hollywood remember his commitment to his roles, commanding presence on film and genuine kind-heartedness. Check out Hollywood's tributes to Ricky Jay below:
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. #RIP https://t.co/VRYRxhkQKr
I was blessed to have the legendary Ricky Jay as a consultant on Rogue Nation. An off-handed comment he made inspired the climax of the opera sequence. It's safe to say it would not be the same scene without him.
When we were shooting DEADWOOD, the fad of Celebrity Poker was white-hot. I asked Ricky why he wasn't on the televised version. After a pause for dramatic effect, he said, “If I win - they'll think I cheated. If I don't... I'm RICKY JAY.”#RickyJay
Just learned we lost Ricky Jay today, my friend and neighbor for 30 years. A irreplaceable world of arcane history, theatrical passion, and his particular, singular performing genius passes with him. RIP buddy. #rickyjay
God, this man was such a badass in every way. I remember first seeing him in Magnolia and being desperately obsessed with him. RIP Ricky Jay: Magician and Actor Was 72 – Variety https://t.co/ya1MkXpqCb
The first time I saw Ricky Jay, @wossy took me to see him doing his 52 Friends show on the stage at the Old Vic. It was a remarkable night, as fascinating for the stories told as for the magic. #RIPRickyJay
I first saw Ricky Jay when I was 15 at the International Jugglers Convention. 20 years later he was the first celebrity guest we had on Mythbusters in 2003, and he agreed to a playing card showdown gunslinger style. He defeated me easily and was a pure delight on set that day.
Sorry to hear of Ricky Jay's death. He had the chops alright. Saw him and his "52 Assistants" (in an air conditioned tent to keep his fingertips dry) and was blown away. Impossible feats. His book "Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women" a masterpiece.
Ricky Jay was truly peerless, both in his knowledge of his craft and his execution of it. We wrote "The Amazing Maleeni" expressly for him, fans eager to share his sleight of hand with @TheXFiles audience. He was the definition of the word “master." pic.twitter.com/0yOnOp4RTV
So gutted to hear about the passing of Ricky Jay. One of the kindest humans I've met. Had a glorious smile and laugh. Could listen to his stories for hours. He lived and breathed history. He was beyond special yet never showed it. Truly one of a kind. #rip