Roy Horn, one-half of the popular Las Vegas animal and magic act Siegfried and Roy, died Friday of complications from the coronavirus, according to his publicist. He was 75. Interactive: Remembering those who have died from Covid-19Roy Uwe Ludwig Horn and Siegfried Fischbacher began their upbeat performances in Europe, later becoming regulars in Las Vegas, where they performed for four decades.”Roy was a fighter his whole life including during these final days,” Fischbacher said in a statement. “I give my heartfelt appreciation to the team of doctors, nurses, and staff at Mountain View Hospital who worked heroically against this insidious virus that ultimately took Roy’s life.”Their revue ended after Horn was attacked on stage by a white tiger named Mantecore in October 2003, severing his spine.
Roy Horn appears at the Mirage Hotel before he was mauled by a white tiger in 2003. The attack happened on Horn’s 59th birthday, and an audience member told CNN at the time that Horn “looked like a rag doll in his mouth.” Horn suffered massive blood loss and stroke and required two surgeries. Horn believed the attack was a reaction to a stroke and afterward called Mantecore “my lifesaver,” his publicist said.
Levitating tigers Roy Horn made elephants disappear, turned into a python and captivated the Las Vegas public for decades when half of the famous illusionist team Siegfried & Roy died Friday in Las Vegas, where he lived. He was 75 years old.
The cause was complications from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to its publicist, Dave Kirvin. Mr. Horn tested positive for the virus last week and died at MountainView Hospital in Las Vegas, Mr. Kirvin said.
The long-running production of the German-born artists, one of the most successful in Las Vegas history, ended on October 3, 2003, when Mr. Horn, on his 59th birthday, was maimed by a white tiger from £ 400 that he threw himself in the throat and dragged him offstage before a crowd of 1,500 stunned and sold-out tickets at MGM’s Mirage hotel-casino.
An assistant tugged on the tiger’s tail, jumped onto its back, and attempted to open its jaws. Another sprayed it with a fire extinguisher until he released it. But Mr. Horn’s trachea had been crushed and an artery carrying oxygen to his brain was damaged. He suffered a stroke and partial paralysis on the left side, underwent two operations at the University of Las Vegas Medical Center, and was placed on life support systems.
After weeks in critical condition, however, Mr. Horn began a long recovery, with rehabilitation at U.C.L.A. Los Angeles Medical Center. In 2004, she returned to her Las Vegas home, and within months she was walking again with help. There was even talk of a comeback, but medical experts and entertainment moguls deemed it highly unlikely.
In February 2009, Siegfried and Roy made a final appearance with a tiger, a charity performance for the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, and they officially retired from show business in 2010.
With his partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, Mr. Horn dazzled the Las Vegas crowds for 35 years with the extravagance of a wizard who combined the brilliance of sequined suits and feather headdresses with the magic of smoke and laser and Exotic animal circus thrill, including rare white tigers. and white lions. Under the spells of the illusionists, a white tiger became a beautiful woman, a six-ton elephant disappeared, a tiger floated above the audience, and Mr. Horn slid down and became a snake.
“The world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend,” Mr. Fischbacher said in a statement on Friday. “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.”
The showmen toured Europe, Japan and other venues, and were featured in a 1999 3D Imax movie, a 1994 television special and at Radio City Music Hall in New York. They broke records for the longest-running act in Las Vegas and were among the most popular and highest paid performers on the Strip. They also wrote a book, “Siegfried and Roy: Mastering the Impossible” (1992).
Mr. Horn and Mr. Fischbacher, who were domestic and professional partners, kept their kennels, including dozens of exotic cats, in a glass-covered tropical habitat at the Mirage; at Jungle Paradise, his 88-acre farm out of town; and at Jungle Palace, their $ 10 million Spanish-style home in Las Vegas.
The artists, recognizing that their actions depended on some endangered species, were prominent in various animal conservation efforts, particularly for the white tiger, native to Asia, and the white lion of Timbavati, in South Africa. They raised many of their show animals from birth and said they were not exploited and were never reassured.
Horn insisted that the mutilating white tiger, a 7-year-old male who had been acquired in Mexico, trained by Horn and used in performances for six and a half years, would not be harmed later. The tiger was quarantined for a time, then returned to its habitat at the Mirage, where many of the animals from the act were exhibited after the show ended. The tiger, whose name was reported to be Montecore at the time of the kill, was given by Mr. Horn as Mantecore when the animal died in 2014 after a brief illness.
In the years after the attack, Mr. Horn and Mr. Fischbacher attempted to minimize what was widely reported as a fierce attack. They said that the tiger had been deranged by a woman in the front row with a beehive hairstyle and the sight of Mr. Horn stumbling as he tried to come between them, and had grabbed him by the neck, like a tigress could be a cub. and tried to get him to a safe place.
That and other theories, suggesting a provocation by animal rights activists or an act of economic terrorism against Las Vegas, were investigated by police and federal officials. A comprehensive report from the United States Department of Agriculture dismissed all those theories and called it a simple tiger attack. But the U.S.D.A. It modified its safety regulations for the live exhibition of big cats to stipulate minimum distances and barriers between animals and the public.
Investigators cited witnesses who said Mr. Horn had ordered the tiger to lie down, and when he refused he hit him on the nose with his microphone. Then the tiger hooked his forearm and when Mr. Horn tried to hit him with the microphone, it swooped down on his throat and dragged him like a rag doll.
The cancellation of Siegfried & Roy after the layoff left 267 cast members and employees out of work, prompted reimbursements for reserved shows months in advance, and caused millions in losses for the Mirage, which had been selling the show’s performances for more than 13 years. . Priced at $ 110 tickets, the show, performed six times a week for 45 weeks a year, brought in around $ 44 million annually to the Mirage.
“Throughout the history of Las Vegas, no artist has meant more to the development of Las Vegas’ global reputation as the entertainment capital of the world than Siegfried and Roy,” said J. Terrence Lanni, president of MGM Mirage. “They are much more than the Mirage stars. They are the heart of our community. “
Roy Uwe Ludwig Horn was born on October 3, 1944 in Nordenham, Germany, near Bremen. Like Mr. Fischbacher, who was five years older and raised in Rosenheim, a village in Bavaria, Mr. Horn grew up in the turmoil of war and post-war Germany. While Mr. Fischbacher was drawn to magic, Mr. Horn was brought with animals, including his wolfdog Hexe, and a cheetah, Chico, at a zoo in Bremen, where the boy took a job after school feeding animals and cleaning cages.
It was a casual meeting in 1957, when they were both working on a German cruise ship that led to the association. Mr. Fischbacher, a butler, was entertaining passengers with magic tricks, and Mr. Horn, a cabin boy, caught their performance. “I told Siegfried if he could get rabbits out of a hat, why couldn’t he make cheetahs appear,” Horn recalled. He said he sneaked Chico out of the zoo and got on the boat in a laundry bag. The new trick, he said, was a hit with passengers.
They formed a society in 1959. In 1964, Mr. Horn and Mr. Fischbacher, still with Chico, were on tour, performing in cabarets and theaters in Germany and Switzerland. The results were mixed: Chico ate steak, the men’s potatoes, until Princess Grace of Monaco saw them at a 1966 benefit in Monte Carlo and gave them very good news.
There was a wave of publicity. Adding animals and tricks, they soon played at nightclubs in Paris and other cities.
In 1987, they signed a five-year, $ 57.5 million contract with Steve Wynn, owner of the planned $ 640 million Mirage hotel-casino, a deal that Variety called the largest in show business history. It included an additional $ 40 million for a new theater for the show and a $ 18 million “Secret Garden” hotel habitat for animals.
While the hotel was being built, the show went on a 10-month tour of Japan, where customers paid up to $ 300 per ticket. And in 1989, Siegfried & Roy performed 32 shows over four weeks before the full houses at Radio City Music Hall in New York. By then, they had added more handlers and assistants and dozens of exotic animals, including white tigers, lions, panthers, elephants, and pythons.
Opening night at the Mirage in 1990 marked the 10,000th performance of the show in Las Vegas. The following years they added thousands of shows and took hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2001, after 20 years of exhausted performances, Mr. Horn and Mr. Fischbacher signed lifetime contracts to work at the Mirage.
A 1994 ABC television special, “Siegfried & Roy: The Magic, the Mystery,” featured part of his act, but focused on artists at home and interacting with animals. The 1999 Imax movie, “Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Box,” detailed the men’s association and featured 3D photos of the tigers and lions appearing to jump into the audience.
Animal rights activists generally oppose the use of wild animals in shows, but few accused Siegfried & Roy of mistreating animals. Horn said the handlers exercised theirs daily, fed them special diets, and even brushed their teeth three times a month. Large cats were placed around the neck for the photographers and he was seen hugging and petting animals. He called his training methods “affective conditioning.”
The men shared their home with tigers, jaguars, mastiffs, and other creatures that often roamed freely around their enclosure. Horn said he slept with a tiger or leopard every night. He said that he and Mr. Fischbacher kept separate rooms and took separate vacations. Mr. Horn’s mother, Johanna, also lived in his home for many years until his death in 2000.
Mr. Horn is survived by a brother, Werner Horn, Mr. Kirvin said.
Conservation had been on Mr. Horn’s agenda for decades. In 1982, he and Mr. Fischbacher obtained their first three white tiger cubs from the Cincinnati Zoo, a major breeding site for white tigers at the time. Over the years, the partners multiplied their offspring tenfold, eventually owning 10 percent of the world’s white tigers.
White tigers, which have blue eyes and are larger than orange tigers, possess a recessive genetic property that creates a virtual absence of orange pigment in their fur, although most have dark streaks. Another genetic condition makes the stripes pale, producing an almost snow-white coat. White tigers are extremely rare in the wild; Several hundred are in captivity, about 100 of them in India. Almost all are descendants of a white cub found by the Maharaja of Rewa in India in 1951.
In 1995, Mr. Horn and Mr. Fischbacher obtained two white lion cubs from the Johannesburg Zoological Society in South Africa. Only five white lions were known to exist. Later, Dr. Patrick Condy of the Zoological Society told Cats Magazine that the breeding efforts of the two men “practically guarantee that Timbavati’s white lions will not only continue to exist but will flourish.”