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Las Vegas illusionist Siegfried Fischbacher, the partner in work and life of Roy Horn, has died at age 81.
Fischbacher and Horn, both natives of Germany, formed their act after meeting on a cruise ship in the 1950s. They performed magic tricks in shows that also featured large animals, including tigers and elephants. Billed as Siegfried & Roy, they made their debut in Vegas in the 1960s, and their popularity endured into the 21st century.
But they ceased performing after a white tiger mauled Horn and dragged him off the stage in 2003. He suffered a crushed windpipe and had a stroke soon afterward. He recovered, but he and Fischbacher spent the rest of their lives focusing on their menagerie of wild cats and on conservation work.
The two were sometimes cagey about their relationship. The Advocate's John Casey, writing about Horn's death last year, noted that Horn was among "a dying breed who lived quasi-out lives," one of the people who "came to fame during a time and place where our kind of love did not speak its name."
Some of those mourning Fischbacher's death, however, recognized the men's personal relationship as well as their professional one. In addition to being a "giant entertainer," Fischbacher "was the kindest and most loyal friend and a beautiful individual," said a statement issued by Carolyn and Oscar Goodman, current and former Las Vegas mayors, respectively. "What is calming now is to realize is that he is back with his life partner, Roy Horn, and at peace. You are loved, dear Siegfried."
Other public officials and performers lauded Siegfried & Roy's contributions to the Vegas scene. The pair "helped shine a bright spotlight on Las Vegas's entertainment industry to the world," Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a statement, according to TV station KTNV.
Several others memorialized Fischbacher via Twitter.
\u201cSiegfried & Roy were masters of live entertainment who redefined the Las Vegas experience. Today's illusionists and magicians who perform #OnlyInDistrict1 follow in their footsteps. I am saddened to hear of Siegfried Fischbacher's passing and my thoughts are with his loved ones.\u201d— Dina Titus (@Dina Titus) 1610651018
\u201cBoth Siegfried & Roy are now gone. S&R invented the full length magic show headlining Vegas. A very different style but without S&R there is no P&T in Vegas. Pure showbiz and pure class. He was a team. We are a team. As Tolstoy wrote -Successful magic teams are all the same\u201d— Penn Jillette (@Penn Jillette) 1610642825
\u201cI am devastated to hear the news of Siegfried Fischbacher\u2019s passing. Today is truly the end of an era in Las Vegas and in the world of magic.\n\nSiegfried was for decades the epitome of what a Las Vegas entertainer should be. On stage he was larger than life...\u201d— Lance Burton (@Lance Burton) 1610638557