Illusionist Siegfried Fischbacher, best known as half of the duo Siegfried & Roy, has died, his publicist confirmed to The Washington Post. He was 81.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Fischbacher died of pancreatic cancer late Wednesday night at the home he shared with his longtime partner, Roy Horn, in Las Vegas.
His sister, a nun who lives in Munich, told German news agency dpa that she talked to her brother on the phone before he died, The Associated Press reported.
“I could pray with him and tell him that I will always be with him in my heart,” Sister Dolore said.
Born on June 13, 1939 in Rosenheim in Bavaria, Fischbacher learned his first magic tricks as a young boy, dpa reported. He teamed up with Horn after they met on a cruise ship in 1957, according to The Associated Press. Horn had run away from home at 13 and was working as a cabin boy while Fischbacher was a 17-year-old steward on the ship, the Post reported.
The duo, both natives of Germany, spent decades astonishing millions with their extraordinary magic tricks. 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.
Fischbacher and Horn honed their animal-magic show in small clubs in Germany and Switzerland in the mid-1960s. Their break came in a Monte Carlo casino when an agent in the audience invited them to Las Vegas. The pair made their debut at the Tropicana hotel-casino in the late 1960s.
The illusionists became popular in the 1970s, receiving their first star billing in 1978 as headliners of the Stardust’s “Lido de Paris.” Their show “Beyond Belief” opened in 1981 at the Frontier and played to thousands over seven years.
The pair ended their show in October 2003, after Horn was critically injured by one of the act’s famed white tigers. He died in May due to complications from COVID-19. He was 75.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.