Siegfried Fischbacher, Illusionist Icon of Siegfried & Roy Duo, Dies at 81
Siegfried Fischbacher died of pancreatic cancer at his home in Las Vegas
Siegfried Fischbacher, the legendary illusionist whose work alongside stage partner Roy Horn made him a household name, has died. He was 81.
Fischbacher died of pancreatic cancer on Wednesday at his home in Las Vegas, according to a statement from his representative provided to PEOPLE.
The German native found fame as part of Siegfried & Roy, combining illusions and rare animals in shows that spent 40 years wowing audiences and made them Las Vegas icons.
Fischbacher's longtime friend and partner Horn — whom he first met on a cruise ship in 1957 — died of COVID-19 complications in May at 75.
His love for magic first began when he bought a magic book as a child, and was taken to new heights after he enlisted Horn, then a bellboy, to be his assistant during his nightly magic show aboard the TS Bremen cruise ship.
It was Horn who first suggested incorporating exotic animals into the show, and soon, the pair had found their niche, thanks to their extravagant showmanship and wildly original performances.
"We did what we did out of love, not for success or money," Fischbacher once said of his bond with Horn. "We had a deep respect for each other. We literally raised each other: I created Roy and Roy created Siegfried."
After performing together in small clubs in Germany and Switzerland, the duo was invited to Las Vegas in 1967 after a producer spotted their act in a casino in Paris, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
They remained in Sin City for decades, eventually launching a historic, 14-year run at The Mirage in 1990 with a $30 million show that featured white tigers, white lions, leopards, jaguars and an elephant. The show set attendance records and box office records for the famed hotel.
The legendary run ended in tragedy, however, when Horn was attacked on stage by a 600-lb. tiger named Montecore in October 2003.
Horn was hospitalized with severe blood loss and suffered a stroke, but appeared on stage alongside Fischbacher — and Montecore — for a "final bow" in 2009.
Following Horn's death this past spring, Fischbacher said in a statement that he had lost his "best friend."
"Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend," Fischbacher said 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."