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.