Siegfried and Roy created an entire universe evolving around magic and white tigers.
Siegfried Fischbacher was born in Bavaria, which then belonged to the German Reich. As a child he bought a book about magic and later performed under the name of Delmare. Roy Uwe Ludwig Horn was born shortly before the end of World War II in the north of Germany. A friend of his mother enabled him to have access to wild animals in the Bremen Zoo. Roy dropped out of school as a teenager and worked as a waiter on MS Bremen. At the same time Siegfried performed as a magician on board and their fate was sealed.
How is that for from rags to riches?
Siegfried and Roy incorporated wild animals in their magic act and hoofed it in European night clubs. By 1976 they made it to The Strip in Las Vegas. They were one of the most flamboyant couples in showbusiness. As for their relationship, the magicians preferred to keep their lives rather private. While both were romantically involved until 1998, they didn’t have their coming out until 2007 (source).
Back in the good old days, people called these things open secrets. Oh, là là.
The duo became world famous magicians. They toured in South America, Japan and played the Lido in Paris. However, their biggest success must have been their shows in Las Vegas. Tropicana, Stardust, New Frontier and Mirage are big names.
Siegfried, Roy and the Tigers
In what seems like a different life today, I wrote a paper about the contribution to animal preservation by Siegfried and Roy at Uni. (Don’t get an arts degree kids …)
One could argue that wild animals should be exactly that; wild. For the duo it was a calling to breed white tigers and lions.
Part of the Mirage is the Secret Garden, where white tigers and lions, snow tigers, black panthers and white panthers live. Rumors go, their contract with the Mirage at the time was the highest in live entertainment. Ever. May their cats live happily ever after.
Roy raised the white tiger Montecore from the bottle and had a strong bond with the animal. In 2003 during a show on his 59th birthday at the Mirage said cat attacked him severely.
Well, you know the quality of Wiki and Co. and what really happened, we will never know. Did he handle the cat wrong? Did he have a small stroke? Was he affected from celebrating his birthday? Roy claimed later, Montecore felt that something was wrong and wanted to drag the magician off stage. Despite doctors’ prognosis, Roy survived. Half of his body was paralyzed but he fought his way back to live step by step.
At the end of April 2020, Roy Horn was tested positive for COVID-19 and passed away a week later. He was 75 years old. At 81, only months after the dead of Roy, Siegfried lost his battle with cancer on 13th of January 2021.
I went on a little YouTube interview binge, as you do, and I honestly got the impression, the illusionists respected the animals and wanted to preserve the lions and tigers. They referred to the cats as their true friends. The accident was very likely the only one in 45 years.
The story of Siegfried and Roy also shows how our media works. Did they put in a huge effort to preserve the white cats for future generations or where they just props in their show? Take some European je ne sais quoi, add American business mind and a unique selling point and there you have it!?
Two boys born during WWII, who lived with drunk fathers and started with nothing. This is what fairy tales are made of. The world has lost two true entertainers. May they rest in peace.
Germany has lost all their A celebrities, unless you count Heidi Klum.
Where do we go from here? (Add Buffy Musical Tune)
Preserve the magic in your life! Be kitschig.
Feature image cc