David Mamet and Ricky Jay, director and star of On the Stem, 2002
When David Mamet and Ricky Jay came to Al’s studio to pose for a drawing in 2002, it was the night of the opening of On the Stem, a magic show by Jay, directed by Mamet. Their conversation about vaudeville and magic acts, was printed verbatim in the Times with this sublime drawing of the duo. When he returned home, Jay, a man who had seen—and seen through— a lot of wonders, said, “Wasn't that amazing hearing Hirschfeld? A guy like that, you know, he was there, he can remember those stories, a lot of which are really disappearing. It's so important, because he's able to bridge that gap between what Broadway used to be and what it is now.” Al turned 99 five days after the piece was published. He had been drawing Broadway since he was 23.