The illusionist, sleight of hand artist, actor, storyteller and professional magician, Ricky Jay, has died. News reports can’t say for sure whether he was 70 or 72 at the time of his death. That’s fitting, perhaps, given that Jay liked to keep the details of his personal life shrouded in mystery.

Before hitting the road, the magic and matchstick man was born Richard Jay Potash on an undetermined date to a middle-class Jewish family in Brooklyn. Over the years, Jay’s magic act, which featured both his card tricks and gifts as a monologist, earned him a devoted following that included the writer David Mamet and set the stage for his later career as an actor.

The video below of Jay reading Shel Silverstein’s poem, ‘The Game in the Windowless Room,” comes from a 2012 documentary about the magician’s life, “Deceptive Practices.”