Roy Horn, who formed one half of the world-renowned Las Vegas entertainment duo Siegfried & Roy, died on Friday due to complications from the Coronavirus. He tested positive for the deadly virus last week at the age of 75.
A legendary magician
Horn and his collaborative partner Siegfried Fischbacher shot to fame for their use of white tigers and lions during live magic shows that ushered in a new era of entertainment in Las Vegas.
"Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend," Siegfried said in a statement. "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."
"Roy was a fighter his whole life including during these final days. 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."
Affinity to animals at a very young age
Born as Uwe Ludwig on Oct. 3, 1944, in Nordeham, Germany, Horn developed an affinity to animals at a very young age. He met Siegfried while working on a ship and the pair started performing on cruise ships before doing shows at nightclubs across Europe.
Their act took them around the globe, from Japan to Radio City Music Hall to a four-decade run in Las Vegas. Their breathtaking theatrics with the exotic animals, which included extravagant costumes and elaborate sets, pulsating lightning, pyrotechnics and feats of illusion, earned them a residency at the landmark casino hotel The Mirage.
During their 14 years headlining at the iconic hotel, they sold out the then-largest theater in Las Vegas history nightly. At the peak of their popularity, the act grossed $45 million a year, making them the most successful live entertainers in the history of Las Vegas, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Tiger attack onstage
Siegfried & Roy continued to perform at The Mirage until Oct. 3, 2003, when he was viciously attacked by one of his tigers on stage. During the performance, Horn was leading Mantacore, a 400-pound, 7-foot-long white male tiger on stage when the wild animal sunk his teeth into Horn's neck and dragged him offstage.
The audience thought it was part of the act until Siegfried announced that the show was over. Mantacore was separated from Horn by trainers backstage but the attack caused him to bleed out and suffer a stroke, marking the end of his performing days. He spent the next 16 years rehabilitating from his injuries, which included a broken spine.
The official story was that Horn suffered the stroke onstage, causing him to stumble and set off the horrific chain of events. Instead of pinning the blame on the tiger, Horn did the opposite. "Mantacore saved my life," he told People magazine in 2004. "He instinctively saw that I needed help, and he helped me."
Siegfried & Roy performed onstage one last time at a 2009 charity event. In a poignant farewell, Horn limped across the stage. Now the magician, he made his partner disappear and a white tiger appear in his place. It was later revealed that the tiger was none other than Mantacore. Check out a video clip from their last performance below: