Roy Horn, who thrilled Las Vegas crowds as part of the big-cats-and-magic act Siegfried & Roy until a tiger attack ended his career in 2003, died today of coronavirus at Mountain View Hospital in Las Vegas. He was 75.
Horn’s publicist said on April 28 that the magician had tested positive for COVID-19.
“Today, the world lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend,” Horn’s longtime performing partner Siegfried Fischbacher said in a statement. “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 Sirgfried.”
Horn and Fischbacher already were veteran performers before they became the toast of the Vegas Strip for more than a decade. Launched in 1990 at the Mirage, their show featured Siegfried & Roy performing with spectacular white lions and white tigers as audiences gasped and cheered.
But it unraveled in October 2003, when a white tiger named Mantecore attacked Horn during a performance, ultimately dragging him offstage by the neck. Trainers were able to free Horn, but he suffered career-ending injuries including a stroke, a severed spine and massive blood loss.
After Horn recovered, he and Fischbacher’s act became the basis for a short-lived DreamWorks Animation series created by Jeffrey Katzenberg called Father of the Pride. Narrated by John Goodman, it lasted one season on NBC in 2004-05. David Herman voiced the Horn character.
Born on October 3, 1944, in Germany, Horn connected with animals at an early age. He adopted a cheetah named Chico from the Bremen Zoo, and while working as a steward on a cruise ship, he assisted Fischbacher in the latter’s magic act. After the show, Horn asked his future collaborator, “Disappearing rabbits is easy, but can you make a cheetah disappear?”
After a pause, Fischbacher replied, “In magic, anything is possible.”
Roy then told him he had smuggled his pet Chico aboard, and the rest is magic and Vegas Strip history. The duo also performed around the world — from Japan to Radio City Music Hall.
“Roy was a fighter his whole life including during these final days,” Fischbacher said. “I give my heartfelt appreciation to the team of doctors, nurses and staff at Mountain View Hospital who worked heroically against this insidious virus that ultimately took Roy’s life.”
Siegfried & Roy reunited for a one-off benefit performance in 2009 and last year were featured in a two-hour ABC special called Siegfried & Roy: Behind the Magic.
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