Roy Horn, famed tiger handler and co-star of the magic duo known as Siegfried and Roy, died of complications from the coronavirus in a hospital in Las Vegas on Friday.
He was 75 years old.
“Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend,” Siegfried Fischbacher 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.”
Together, Fischbacher and Horn were world-renowned magicians who used exotic cats as a signature part of their act. At the peak of their careers as entertainers, they performed at the Mirage in Las Vegas, which is home to Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat.
During a live show in October 2003, a 400-pound white tiger mauled Horn and dragged him off-stage. Horn suffered brain damage and a crushed windpipe, though he survived with partial paralysis.
The famous duo had long claimed that Roy was actually suffering a stroke and the tiger, named Montecore, was trying to protect him during that incident. A tiger handler who worked with Montecore refuted their claim, telling The Hollywood Reporter in 2019 that Roy hadn’t spent enough time with the tiger before shows.
Fischbacher and Horn’s show set the stage for large-scale shows to come to Las Vegas, including Cirque du Soleil, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Horn tested positive for the coronavirus in late April.
“Roy was a fighter his whole life including during these final days,” Fischbacher said in a statement on Friday night. “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.”