NEW YORK – Ricky Jay, a magician, historian of extravagant artists and actor who appeared in "Boogie Nights" and other movies, has died. He was 72 years old.

Jay died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles on Saturday, according to his manager Winston Simone.

The magician / actor appeared in numerous films and television series, such as "Boogie Nights" (in which he played a cameraman), "Magnolia", "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "Deadwood" on HBO. He consulted about "Ocean's Thirteen" and "Forrest Gump" and compiled rare books about unusual artists and artists that go back hundreds of years.

His one-man shows were heard in crowded audiences, where his hand-playing art impressed even other magicians. In a famous trick, pierce a watermelon with a letter thrown in the air.

He also wrote several books about games, magic and magicians, including "Dice: Deception, Fate and Rotten Luck".

Jay liked the stories of curious characters, players and scam artists, and wrote a book that celebrated the art of Matthias Buchinger, an 18th-century German magician born without legs or hands.

The Buchinger artifacts compiled by Jay were presented at a 2015 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

"The breadth of his knowledge and appreciation for magic and the allied arts was truly remarkable," wrote fellow actor and magician Neal Patrick Harris. "So sad news, such a profound loss. "

Jay worked frequently with playwright David Mamet, who produced his one-man show "Ricky Jay and his 52 attendees." All the performances of the series in New York were sold out, and he won an Obie Award for theatrical productions off Broadway.

An off-Broadway show, "Ricky Jay: On the Stem," also produced by Mamet, was introduced to the market for six months. The Associated Press called it "a whirlwind, maddening journey through the forgotten history of New York, with specific attention to the strange characters who thrived decades ago on Broadway."

In addition, Jay appeared in Mamet's films as "House of Games", "State and Main" and "Heist".

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