Siegfried Fischbacher: Member of magic duo Siegfried and Roy dies aged 81

·3 min read
Siegfried and Roy
Siegfried and Roy were one of the hottest tickets in Las Vegas

Siegfried Fischbacher, one half of celebrated magic double act Siegfried and Roy, has died from pancreatic cancer in Las Vegas at the age of 81.

The pair were among the biggest names in the world of magic and were known for working with lions and tigers.

Paying tribute, David Copperfield called him a "legend in magic", and Penn Jillette said Siegfried and Roy were "pure showbiz and pure class".

Roy Horn died from Covid-19 complications last May.

The pair "invented the full length magic show headlining Vegas", according to Jillette, who is known as part of the duo Penn and Teller.

Tiger attack

Siegfried and Roy teamed up in their native Germany in the 1950s, and the highlight of their extravagant shows was their performances with white lions and white tigers.

Horn was attacked by a 400lb white Bengal tiger named Montecore during a performance in Las Vegas in 2003, leaving him partially paralysed and using a wheelchair.

He underwent lengthy rehabilitation and was later able to walk again, but the attack ended the duo's long-running Las Vegas residency.

Roy Horn real name Uwe Ludwig Horn
Roy Horn (left) had to use a wheelchair after the tiger attack

Fischbacher and Horn, whose real name was Uwe Ludwig Horn, had met on a cruise ship and were later signed up by a liner company.

After being spotted and signed to perform at a nightclub in Bremen, they went on to tour Europe and brought tigers into their act.

But they shot to worldwide fame after launching their Las Vegas shows in the 1960s.

Their unique brand of magic and artistry consistently attracted sell-out crowds. They performed an estimated 5,000 shows for 10 million fans in the city after 1990, when they began performing at the Mirage hotel-casino.

Siegfried & Roy
Siegfried & Roy

They were also estimated to have grossed more than $1bn by 2001, which included their thousands of shows at other venues in earlier years.

In 2004, their act became the basis for the animated comedy Father of the Pride, about the mischievous adventures of a family of white lions who perform with Siegfried & Roy in Las Vegas.

Horn's condition improved and by 2006 he was able to talk and walk with assistance from Fischbacher.

In 2009, the duo staged a final appearance with a lion (said to be Montecore, but this was disputed by some) at a benefit for the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute in Las Vegas.

Siegfried Fischbacher
Siegfried Fischbacher was devoted to his partner Roy

They retired from showbusiness in 2010. After Horn's death last year, Fischbacher said: "Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend.

"From the moment we met, I knew Roy and I, together, would change the world. There could be no Siegfried without Roy, and no Roy without Siegfried."

Fischbacher recently had a 12-hour operation to remove a malignant tumour. He had been receiving care at home from two hospice workers in recent days.

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