The famous German illusionists Siegfried & Roy met on a cruise ship, conquered Las Vegas in the mid-60s and became real stars of show business. The story of this couple returns to the foreground with the sad memory of the abrupt end of their presentations due to the attack of a white tiger.
El drama de Sigfried & Roy
Sigfried Fischbacher dedicated himself to magic since he was little and in 1957 he performed his tricks on board a cruise ship. Roy Horn, a few years his junior, became fascinated with the performance and was invited to the stage as an assistant. From that day on, these then young German artists became a duo and never separated.
In the 60s they began to perfect their tricks with animals in halls in Germany and Switzerland. Until one night when they were doing their show in a casino in Monte Carlo, they were presented with the opportunity of a lifetime.
In the audience was a show promoter from Las Vegas, who was amazed by the show and suggested they perform in the United States. At the end of the 60s Sigfried & Roy dazzled everyone with their debut at Tropicana. They never left Las Vegas again.
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The show on the fateful night of October 3, 2003 was very special for Roy Horn: he was celebrating his 59th birthday and among the 1,500 people who had packed the Mirage Hotel there were many of his friends. From among his dozens of lions and white tigers, the magician chose Mantacore to accompany him in that show.
At one point in the routine, the white tiger, weighing 200 kilos and more than 2 meters long, pounced on Roy's neck and began to drag him across the stage to the astonishment of everyone. Siegfried screamed for help and the spectators ran desperately towards the exit. One of the animal handlers working with them managed to get the tiger to release the magician behind the curtains and he was quickly taken to the hospital.
Roy Horn with a white tiger cub. On his 59th birthday he was attacked by one of them in the middle of the show. (Photo: AP)
The magicians were careful not to retaliate against the tiger, who was 3 years old at the time, and this finally happened. The feline remained with the rest of the couple's animals and died in 2014.
Ten years before this dramatic show, The Simpsons (famous for predicting events that later occur in real life) presented an episode in which the duo was attacked by a white tiger. Although in fact Mantacore only attacked Roy, the story fueled the myth that the series predicts the future.
The causes of the Mantacore attack were never clear. The magicians' version is that Roy suffered a stroke during the show and the tiger, in its attempt to help him, ended up hurting him. For one of the keepers, the artist made a mistake that confused the animal. Hotel authorities, meanwhile, said that a laser light from the stalls dazzled the tiger and triggered the tragedy.
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The attack meant the end of the performances for the duo. Roy was incapacitated by his injuries, which caused a stroke with devastating consequences. Siegfried equipped a spectacular mansion so that his companion could receive all the care and could function comfortably (there were railings at hip height throughout the residence).
German magicians conquered Las Vegas with their incredible tricks. In 2003, a white tiger attack on Roy marked the end of their careers.
The relationship between them was always a mystery. It was known that they had been lovers but they never wanted to confirm the version that they had a stable romantic bond. However, they lived together and functioned as a couple on and off stage.
Since the incident with the tiger, Roy, born Uwe Ludwig Horn, lived in seclusion in the mansion called Little Bavaria and died on May 8, 2020, at the age of 75, due to complications derived from the coronavirus. Less than a year later, on January 13, 2021, the death of his partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, who was 81 years old and fighting pancreatic cancer, died. They had fulfilled the premise of magicians: making the viewer's mind deceive itself.