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Siegfried Fischbacher (1939–2021), half of Siegfried & Roy magic duo

by Linnea Crowther

Siegfried Fischbacher was a German-American entertainer who was one half of Siegfried & Roy, the famed Las Vegas stage magic duo who incorporated white tigers and lions into their act.

The beginning of their partnership

Fischbacher met Roy Horn (1944–2020) while the two were teenagers working aboard a cruise ship. An aspiring magician since childhood, Fischbacher was performing for the ship’s passengers when he asked Horn – a big cat aficionado – to assist. Their two talents came together to form the big-cats-and-magic spectacle that would become the most popular show in Las Vegas for more than 10 years. Beginning to perform in Vegas in 1967, they worked their way up to great renown despite an early perception that they’d fail.

Taking Las Vegas by storm

Magic wasn’t popular in Vegas in those days, but the duo dazzled audiences with their flamboyant costumes and rare white cats. They paved the way for a new style of entertainment in the city, and they became not just its biggest stars, but symbols of its glotz and showmanship. Siegfried & Roy headlined at the Mirage Resort and Casino in a theater built for them from 1990 to 2003. Their act was cut short when a tiger mauled Horn – though both performers insisted that the tiger had simply pulled Horn to safety after he experienced a stroke. The incident marked the end of the duo’s residency at the Mirage, but they occasionally reunited for public appearances.

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Fischbacher on the change they brought to Las Vegas

“It’s family entertainment. That’s what we started. These are big production shows now, but yeah, we came from nowhere. And when the Mirage became such a success, Steve Wynn knew how important entertainment was, and he knew how important Siegfried & Roy were. The show was sold out every night from the first night to the last.” —from a 2013 interview with Las Vegas Weekly

Tributes to Siegfried Fischbacher

Full obituary: The Washington Post

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