January 17, 2021
Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn, known as Siegfried and Roy, were among the most iconic duos in the entertainment business with the former’s magic tricks and the latter’s white tiger-taming acts.
The duo met in the late 50s on the TS Bremen, a luxury cruiseliner that traveled between Germany and the States. At the time, Siegfried was a steward and Roy a waiter.
Siegfried also performed magic tricks on the side, so shortly after becoming friends, Roy volunteered to be his assistant, and they made a rabbit disappear.
SIEGFRIED AND ROY’S CAREERS
While it was an outstanding performance, Roy was not impressed and asked Siegfried if he could do the same with a cheetah. He then took Siegfried to his cabin, where he was keeping a cheetah named Chico.
Eventually, the duo included Chico in the magic routine and received a standing ovation. At that moment, Siegfried and Roy knew that they had something special.
Siegfried admitted that, in show business, entertainers don’t have to be only good but different, and that’s what Roy brought with him. After leaving the cruise ship, they started performing all around Europe.
As the years went by, the duo’s fame kept rising. Their big break came in Monte Carlo in 1996, when they performed in front of some A-list celebrities, including Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren.
COMING TO LAS VEGAS
Siegfried and Roy’s act was so good that newspapers described them as “the new kings of Monte Carlo” the next day. Fortunately, they were spotted by a scout, who invited them to Las Vegas.
By 1969, they were hired as a side act at the Stardust Hotel’s “Lido de Paris” show. Eventually, they landed their own show and performed in Sin City for over 30 years.
One of the most critical decisions they made for their shows was making them family-friendly by getting rid of nudity – something common in many Vegas shows at the time.
Siegfried and Roy were so prestigious and respected by the entertainment industry that, in 1999, they were inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in California.
Two years after the incident, Roy was already capable of walking on his own.
SIEGFRIED AND ROY’S TIGER ATTACK
The duo’s career was cut short in 2003 following an onstage incident at The Mirage in which one of their white Bengal tigers, Mantacore, attacked Roy and left him in critical condition.
After that, the show was closed. A year later, Roy, who was left partially paralyzed, claimed that Mantacore was not to blame as he fainted and the tiger was trying to help by dragging him off stage.
However, Siegfried and Roy’s animal handler Chris Lawrence contradicted those allegations by saying that it all happened because Roy mishandled the big cat.
Two years after the incident, Roy was already capable of walking on his own. Siegfried and Roy got back together for a final performance in February 2009 before retiring for good in 2010.
SIEGFRIED AND ROY’S DEATHS
“The world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend. […] There could be no Siegfried without Roy, and no Roy without Siegfried.”
Eight months later, on January 14, 2021, Siegfried Fischbacher died, as well. He was 81 years old, and according to his publicist, the cause of his death was pancreatic cancer.
Siegfried’s sister, a nun living in Munich, said she prayed with her brother on the phone before he died. Siegfried and Roy were two of the world’s most famous entertainers in their own right.