Siegfried Fischbacher, who teamed with partner Roy Horn to become Siegfried & Roy, among the most famous magicians in the world and one of Las Vegas’ biggest draws, died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer at his home in Las Vegas. He was 81.
Fischbacher’s death was announced by his sister Dolore, who lives as a nun in Munich, Germany, to the German newspaper Bild. The news subsequently was confirmed by his publicist, Dave Kirvin.
“He fell asleep gently and peacefully,” Dolore told Bild. She said Fischbacher had been in the care of hospice nurses at his home.
Known for their flamboyant, Liberace-style costumes and the use in their act of “big cats” — lions, leopards, jaguars and, most famously, rare white tigers — Siegfried & Roy were partners in life as well as onstage who carved out a 40-year career with elaborate, large-scale illusions. The headlining duo became synonymous with Vegas glitz and over-the-top showbiz glamour.
Siegfried & Roy began their Vegas career in 1989 at the Mirage hotel and casino, also the location of their end. In 2003, a horrific incident occurred in which a white tiger named Montecore attacked Horn, biting his neck and dragging him off the stage. The illusionist was badly injured, suffered massive blood loss and had a severe stroke. Horn would maintain that the stroke occurred before the attack, and that Montecore was merely protecting him by dragging him to safety. That account was disputed by one of the duo’s animal trainers.
The duo also performed around the world — from Japan to Radio City Music Hall. Horn died of Covid-19 in May at 75.
In addition to appearing in their own documentaries — Siegfried & Roy: Masters of the Impossible (1997), Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Box (1999) and TV’s Father of the Pride and Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Returns — the duo made appearances in 1997’s Vegas Vacation starring Chevy Chase and Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 Ocean’s Eleven remake.
Funeral services will be private, with a public memorial to be planned at a later date.
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