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Arts & Culture

AMERICAN MASTERS: Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice

Ricky Jay, best-selling author, historian, actor and leading collector of antiquarian books and artifacts, and, above all, a conjurer.
Courtesy of Theo Westenberger/Autry Museum
Ricky Jay, best-selling author, historian, actor and leading collector of antiquarian books and artifacts, and, above all, a conjurer.

Airs Friday, January 23, 2015 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Explore the lives and creative journeys of America’s most enduring artistic and cultural giants. With insight and originality, AMERICAN MASTERS illuminates the extraordinary mosaic of our nation’s landscape, heritage and traditions.

Ricky Jay, best-selling author, historian, actor and leading collector of antiquarian books and artifacts, and, above all, a conjurer.
Courtesy of Lara Jo Regan
Ricky Jay, best-selling author, historian, actor and leading collector of antiquarian books and artifacts, and, above all, a conjurer.
Ricky Jay, best-selling author, historian, actor and leading collector of antiquarian books and artifacts, and, above all, a conjurer.
Courtesy of Lara Jo Regan
Ricky Jay, best-selling author, historian, actor and leading collector of antiquarian books and artifacts, and, above all, a conjurer.

10 Revealing Facts

Ricky Jay is a world-renowned magician. As a scholar and collector, he is an authority on the history of magic, but he’s rather secretive about his own life and techniques, even if he did agree to be the subject of AMERICAN MASTERS "Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice." Learn 10 revealing facts about the mysterious Ricky Jay.

For the first time in the series’ 29-year history, AMERICAN MASTERS profiles a magician: the inimitable Ricky Jay, one of the world’s greatest conjurers, a best-selling author, historian, actor and leading collector of antiquarian books and artifacts. Journey through the mysterious world of sleight-of-hand through new interviews with Jay, his friends and collaborators, including writer/director David Mamet.

Tracing the story of Jay’s achievement, beginning at age four as apprentice to his grandfather Max Katz, an accomplished amateur magician, the documentary features rare footage of some of the most influential magicians of the 20th century: Cardini, Slydini, Al Flosso, Dai Vernon and Charles Miller.

Narrated by Dick Cavett, the film also features rare performance footage from Jay’s one-man shows and classic TV appearances, among them a hilarious turn with Steve Martin on Dinah Shore’s 1970s program. Filmmakers Molly Bernstein and Alan Edelstein explore the arduous demands of the magician’s craft, the use of language and storytelling central to the art, and this ancient tradition’s future.

Visit Ricky Jay's website. "Ricky Jay" Movie is on Facebook. AMERICAN MASTERS is on Facebook, Instagram, and you can follow @PBSAmerMasters on Twitter. Past episodes of AMERICAN MASTERS are available for online viewing.

Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice - Trailer

"This portrait of the inimitable magician Ricky Jay delves into the mysterious world of sleight-of-hand and its small circle of eccentric devotees. Jay is also a best-selling author

Sleight of Hand and Three Card Monte with Ricky Jay

"At a performance in London