Emily Zolten has been married to magician Penn Jillette since 2004 and they have two children together.
Jillette and his comedy partner, Teller, recently hosted a quarantine-style version of their magic show from their homes. The special, called Penn & Teller: Try This at Home, aired on the CW on May 18. The magicians were joined by celebrity guests including Elle and Dakota Fanning, Michael Carbonaro and Shin Lim while they explained how to perform new tricks.
Jillette shared a behind-the-scenes video of his daughter, Moxie, on the set on April 23 as he was filming the special. Zolten and their children were not part of the broadcast.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Zolten Is a Television & Film Producer But Appeared In Front of the Camera For an Episode of ‘Celebrity Wife Swap’ In 2014
Zolten, like her magician husband, works in the entertainment industry. According to her IMDB profile, Zolten began working on movie sets in the early 1990s. She was listed as a production assistant on the movies Rookie of the Year and Striking Distance.
Zolten served as the executive producer for the documentary Gambler’s Ballad about magician Johnny Thompson. Her career has also involved producing commercials for Walt Disney World and the golf industry. Earlier in her career, Zolten worked as a stage manager for Star Search.
In 2014, Zolten appeared in front of the camera for an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap on ABC. She swapped places with the wife of comedian Judy Gold for one week. Zolten and Jillette are atheists, while the Golds practice Judaism. Gold explained to the Observer at the time that she felt the trade was more taxing for her and Zolten because they were spending time in a compact New York City apartment. Zolten described the Gold household as “chaotic” after the couples reunited following the swap.
2. Zolten Asked Jillette Out On a Date After Attending a Show & They Married Two Years Later at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel
Zolten and Jillette met in the early 2000s after one of his shows. Zolten explained to Heavy that she was working as a golf commercial producer and was in Las Vegas monthly for work. She decided to buy a ticket to see her future husband’s show and that’s where the love story began. In Zolten’s own words:
I had a free night and bought a ticket to the Penn & Teller show. I had seen them off-broadway in the 80s. As I was leaving, I saw they sign autographs and take pictures in the lobby. I waited in line and asked him out. He said, “I can’t go out tonight, I’m going to see Robert Goulet’s late show. How about tomorrow?” And that was 17 years ago.
A spokesperson for Jillette said at the time that the wedding was an impromptu ceremony at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. Zolten and Jillette did not go on a honeymoon.
The couple lived at Jillette’s Las Vegas home, nicknamed the Slammer, for more than a decade. The two-building estate sits on about 10 acres of desert, with views of the Strip and the Las Vegas Valley, the Las Vegas Weekly reported in 2013.
Zolten and Jillette decided to sell the Slammer in 2015 and move to a more residential area. They bought a home in a gated community called The Ridges, the Las Vegas Sun reported. The house has 7,800-square-feet of living space and cost the couple $3.3 million.
3. Jillette & Zolten Said They Wanted to Give Their Children Unique Names
Zolten and Jillette’s two children have unique names by design. Their daughter, Moxie CrimeFighter, was born in 2005. Son Zolten Penn arrived the following year. Emily Zolten told Heavy that her children are slightly less than one year apart. Moxie’s birthday is June 3 and her little brother was born on May 22.
Jillette explained to People magazine in 2007, “I think it’s pretty cruel to give a kid a name that others are going to have. I think it’s very important to have a unique name within any group you’re likely to be in.”
Jillette explained that it was his wife’s idea to give their daughter such an usual middle name. “EZ doesn’t have a middle name and thinks middle names are stupid. So, it’s just a joke. When she gets pulled over by the police she can show her license and say, ‘We’re on the same side, officer, my middle name is CrimeFighter.’ The couple chose to name their son Zolten as a way to honor Emily Zolten’s side of the family.
The magician explained in 2016 that his one regret in life was that his parents passed away before they could meet Zolten and their children. Jillette told Las Vegas Magazine, “I talk to my children about their grandparents all the time, but all my words can never fill in for one smile from either Sam or Val.” Jillette’s mother was 45 when he was born, and Jillette was 50 when daughter Moxie arrived.
4. Zolten Made Headlines When She Helped Rescue an Injured Surfer In Hawaii
Zolten made headlines in 2015 during a trip to Hawaii when she was credited for saving a man’s life. Zolten found a surfer who had been badly injured after he was slammed into the rocks. Zolten said she came upon the man as she was walking along the beach near her hotel.
The Daily Mail reported that Zolten called for help and stayed with the injured man until emergency medical responders arrived to take him to the hospital. She also managed to get in contact with the man’s wife.
Zolten explained she didn’t know what happened to the man after he was taken to the hospital. “I can only hope they were OK, and if they were delayed a day or two going home, at least he was alive and I’d found him.” Jillette further highlighted his wife’s good deed by sharing the Daily Mail article on his Twitter feed.
5. Zolten Is a Golfer & Ran the New York City Marathon
Zolten spends part of her time participating in athletic activies. As an amateur golfer, she played in the second annual World Series of Golf tournament in 2008 alongside celebrities such as actor Ray Romano, House Detective host John Daly, and poker professionals Phil Gordon and Tom Schneider. A car salesman named Andrew “AJ” Johnson from Michigan ultimately won that year.
Zolten is also a runner. She ran in the New York City Marathon in 2018 and 2019. She crossed the finish line in just over 5.5 hours in both races. Zolten ran to raise money for the Narcolepsy Network.
Back home in Las Vegas, Zolten is active with the Girl Scouts. She led her daughter’s troop and was the 2018 Dessert Before Dinner honorary “Trailblazer” Girl Scouts badge recipient. The organization noted in a Facebook post about the award that Zolten participated in Brownies when she was a child as well.
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