Roy Horn, half of the iconic magician duo Siegfried and Roy, has died from complications of the new coronavirus in Las Vegas. He was 75.
Together with Siegfried Fischbacher, Horn, born Uwe Ludwig Horn, created one of the most widely known magic acts in the world, staging shows filled with sleights of hand and exotic animals for packed audiences in Las Vegas for more than a decade. At its height, the glitzy show grossed $45 million per year, according to The Hollywood Reporter, among the highest ever in Las Vegas.
“Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend,” Fischbacher said in a statement. “There could be no Siegfried without Roy, no Roy without Siegfried.” Fischbacher thanked the doctors and nurses who cared for his friend.
“Siegfried and Roy” captivated viewers at The Mirage hotel for 13 years until Horn suffered a horrific accident in October 2003. Though Horn himself often trained the big cats the duo incorporated into their act, a white tiger named Mantacore bit him in the neck and dragged him offstage the night of his 59th birthday. Horn began to bleed out as trainers separated the two. He suffered a stroke the same night, and the double whammy rendered him mostly paralyzed on his left side.
But he never blamed Mantacore, and instead credited the 400-pound tiger with “saving” him after he stumbled on stage. “He instinctively saw that I needed help, and he helped me,” Horn told People magazine in 2004.
According to a biography posted on the pair’s website, Horn was born in Germany during World War II, the last of four sons. During a lonely childhood, he forged strong bonds with animals, especially a black, half-wolf pet dog, Hexe, and a cheetah at the local zoo named Chico. The affinity would last his whole life.
“I learned very early that animals sense my thoughts before I have them,” he wrote. “People who don’t have strong attachments for animals may think this is sentimental mysticism. For me, it is simply fact. It’s because of what I experienced as a child that my security, my certainty of unconditional trust, unconditional emotion, and unconditional strength comes from animals.”