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Roy Horn (1944–2020) of Siegfried & Roy, tiger-wrangling magician

by Stephen Segal

Roy Horn was an internationally renowned illusionist whose duo with Siegfried Fischbacher, famed for sharing the stage with lions and tigers, was the most popular show in Las Vegas for more than a decade.

Biggest show in Las Vegas

Roy met Siegfried when they were both working aboard a cruise ship in 1957. Siegfried was an aspiring magician and Roy had a lifelong fascination with animals. They combined their interests and developed a nightclub act that incorporated magic and exotic animals. They made it to Las Vegas in 1967 as a specialty act in a variety show. They appeared in a number of different shows throughout the 1970s and by the 1980s they made the leap to headliners.

The Mirage hotel and casino built a special 5,000-seat theater for Siegfried and Roy. In 1990 the show debuted with the first an eventual 5,750 performances. The glitzy show became synonymous with Las Vegas and paved the way for magicians like Penn & Teller to become Las Vegas headliners.


Tiger attack and recovery

On October 3, 2003 Horn was attacked by his tiger, Mantecore, during a performance and dragged off-stage. His injuries were severe, and the incident effectively ended the Siegfried & Roy stage show. Roy insisted Mantecore didn’t attack him, but rather saved him by dragging him backstage after he suffered a stroke. He requested that no harm come to the tiger.

Whatever the order of events, Roy did suffer a stroke and spent the rest of his life rehabilitating from his injuries at the six-acre Jungle Palace compound near Las Vegas. There he was surrounded by his menagerie of exotic animals and frequently visited by Siegfried.

What they said about him

Full obituary: Las Vegas Review-Journal

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