USA TODAY: Siegfried Fischbacher, who partnered with Roy Horn for the Las Vegas stage act Siegfried and Roy, has died at age 81.
Fischbacher died Wednesday night at his home in Las Vegas after a battle with pancreatic cancer, publicist Dave Kirvin confirmed in a news release.
His death comes eight months after the passing of his longtime stage partner Horn, who died May 8 of coronavirus complications at 75.
“Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend,” Fischbacher said in a statement about Horn at the time. “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 Siegfried.”
Born in Rosenheim, Germany in 1939, Fischbacher was a magic enthusiast from an early age – purchasing a book on the subject as a kid would kickstart a life-long career in performing magic.
According to their book “Siegfried & Roy’s Magic for the Ages,” Horn met Fischbacher while the two were working on a cruise ship — Horn as a steward, Fischbacher as a magician. Horn proposed creating a show that would combine magic and animals.
Horn, who had smuggled his pet cheetah aboard the ship, asked Fischbacher, “Siegfried, disappearing rabbits are ordinary, but can you make a cheetah disappear?”
“In magic, anything is possible,” Fischbacher replied.
The duo’s show toured Europe before landing in Las Vegas in 1967, performing as part of Las Vegas stage shows “Folies Bergere,” “Hallelujah Hollywood” and “Lido de Paris.” By 1981, they became headliners at the New Frontier Hotel and Casino before moving to The Mirage in 1990. At the time, the pair ranked No. 27 on Forbes Magazine’s list of the highest-paid performers.
Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman wrote in a series of tweets Thursday that Siegfried and Roy “put Las Vegas on the map not only as spectacular illusionists but also as breeders, trainers and caretakers of royal felines which grew to be an enormous part of their performance.”
Their production became a major Las Vegas destination, an extravaganza of lights, sounds, magic and animals: lions, leopards, jaguars, elephants and tigers.
“We did what we did out of love, not for success or money,” Siegfried once said. “We had a deep respect for each other. We literally raised each other: I created Roy and Roy created Siegfried.”
Their successful Las Vegas run ended in 2003 after Horn was mauled and dragged offstage during a live show by Montecore, a 400-pound Siberian tiger.
Horn was rushed to the hospital and survived multiple surgeries. Following he attack, he had difficulty walking and talking, which a 2005 USDA report said was the result of a crushed windpipe and damage to an artery carrying oxygen to Horn’s brain.
Fishbacher and Horn had performed together in Las Vegas for more than 30 years. The duo performed about 5,000 shows for 10 million fans during their run at The Mirage, grossing more than $1 billion.
“Funeral services will be private with plans for a public memorial in the future,” the release added.
Contributing: Brett McGinness and Ed Komenda, Reno Gazette Journal