Illusionist Siegfried Fischbacher dies aged 81

Mr Fischbacher’s long-time showbusiness partner, Roy Horn, died last year aged 75 of complications from Covid-19.

Siegfried Fischbacher
Siegfried Fischbacher

Siegfried Fischbacher, the surviving member of the magic duo Siegfried & Roy who entertained millions with illusions using rare animals, has died in Las Vegas aged 81, his publicist has said.

Mr Fischbacher died at his home on Wednesday from pancreatic cancer, Dave Kirvin of Kirvin Doak Communications said on Thursday.

Mr Fischbacher’s long-time showbusiness partner, Roy Horn, died last year of complications from Covid-19 at a Las Vegas hospital. He was 75.

Illusionists Siegfried Fischbacher, left, and Roy Horn
Illusionists Siegfried Fischbacher, left, and Roy Horn (Neil Jacobs/AP)

The duo astonished millions with their extraordinary magic tricks until Mr Horn was critically injured in 2003 by one of the act’s famed white tigers.

In a statement announcing Mr Horn’s death in May, Mr Fischbacher said: “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.”

He later told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper that his best friend would always stay by his side.

“For dinner, I will continue to have the table set for him, too. Like it always was the case. I’m not alone,” dpa quoted Mr Fischbacher as saying.

For years, Siegfried & Roy was an institution in Las Vegas, where Mr Fischbacher and Mr Horn’s magic and artistry consistently attracted sellout crowds. The pair performed six shows a week, 44 weeks a year.

Obit Siegfried Fischbacher
Siegfried & Roy’s compound was home to dozens of rare animals over the years (John Locher/AP)

Mr Horn and Mr Fischbacher, both from Germany, first teamed up in 1957 and made their Las Vegas debut a decade later. Siegfried & Roy began performing at the Mirage in 1990.

The pair gained international recognition for helping to save rare white tigers and white lions from extinction. Their 10 million US dollar compound was home to dozens of rare animals over the years.

The white lions and white tigers were the result of a preservation programme that began in the 1980s.

The Siegfried & Roy show incorporated animal antics and magic tricks, featuring 20 white tigers and lions, the number varying depending on the night. The show also had other exotic animals, including an elephant.

When they signed a lifetime contract with the Mirage in 2001, it was estimated they had performed 5,000 shows at the casino for 10 million fans since 1990 and had grossed more than one billion US dollars.

“Throughout the history of Las Vegas, no artists have meant more to the development of Las Vegas’ global reputation as the entertainment capital of the world than Siegfried and Roy,” Terry Lanni, chairman of MGM Mirage, the casino’s parent company, said after the 2003 attack that injured Mr Horn.

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