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Roy Horn, Showman and Conservationist, Dead From COVID-19

Sigfriend and Roy

Roy Horn, one-half of the illusionist duo Siegfried & Roy, died Friday in Las Vegas from COVID-19 complications, The New York Times reports.

Horn, 75, tested positive for the virus last week and died in Las Vegas's MountainView Hosptial. Horn leaves behind his partner in life and work, Siegfried Fischbacher.

Both Horn and Fischbacher grew up in Germany and met while working on a cruise. While Fischbacher was a magician at heart, Horn was an animal lover and even traveled with a wolf-dog and cheetah. The two young men combined their specialities to form an illusionist show featuring wild animals. The international jet-set became familiar with the pair after Princess Grace (formerly Kelly) of Monaco saw the partners perform in 1966 and marveled at their talent.

Soon after, Siegfried and Roy were booked at The Tropicana resort in Las Vegas. They were a hit and would perform in the city for over 35 years. Their show moved to The Mirage hotel and casino in 1987, where they packed audiences with their mix of magic and wild cats, bringing tens of millions to the resort annually. Siegfried & Roy's reign ended after a white tiger mauled Horn during a 2003 performance, with 1,500 people in attendance. The performers maintained the tiger was startled by a woman's beehive hairdo and Horn tripping over his feet on stage. The tiger, Mantecore, picked up Horn and dragged him off stage. His windpipe was crushed and he soon suffered a stroke.

Horn learned to walk again, but his days as a performer were over. Horn focused on his menagerie of endangered wild animals, which were kept at his Las Vegas compounds, as well as a wildlife facility at The Mirage. Both Fischbacher and Horn were involved in conservation efforts for wild animals, especially wild cats. 

Siegfried and Roy were accused of sexual harassment by a male employee after their show ended in 2003, but a lawsuit against the pair was thrown out.

The couple were not the most visible of LGBTQ celebrities, but they didn't deny the fact that were partners in life. Horn and Fischbacher were fixtures in Las Vegas, and their decades of performing cemented their status as cultural figures (of a certain off-color variety).

“Throughout the history of Las Vegas, no artists have meant more to the development of Las Vegas’s global reputation as the entertainment capital of the world than Siegfried and Roy,” J. Terrence Lanni, who was the chairman of MGM Mirage, said after the attack on Horn. 

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