Siegfried Fischbacher, half of the illusionistic duo Siegfried & Roy, who were the most popular act on the Las Vegas Strip at their height, died on Wednesday at the age of 81.
Fischbacher announced that he had terminal pancreatic cancer in early January and died of the disease in his Las Vegas home.
The German publication Bild confirmed the news on Thursday.
The other half of the couple, Roy Horn, died in 2020 at the age of 75 from complications from COVID-19.
Fischbacher had a malignant tumor removed in a 12-hour operation last year, but it was found that the cancer had spread throughout his body. According to the Las Vegas Review journal, he chose to die at home under the supervision of private naturopaths.
His last public appearance in Las Vegas was at the end of August at the inauguration of Siegfried & Roy Drive in the Mirage Casino, where Siegfried & Roy performed exclusively.
The act, which featured mostly lion and tiger stunts, was sold out for 12 years until Horn was dragged off the stage by a big white tiger, Montecore, in 2003. The incident – the couple never called it an “attack”. Insisting that the cat was actually trying to save Horn – took place in front of a live audience and essentially killed the act.
Horn was credited with the idea of introducing an exotic animal – his pet cheetah – to the magical act of the dark-haired of the striking duo.
“Roy was a fighter all his life, including these last few days,” said Fischbacher at the time of Horn’s death. “I sincerely thank the team of doctors, nurses, and staff at Mountain View Hospital who worked heroically against this insidious virus that ultimately cost Roy his life.”
The two became an institution in Las Vegas, playing six shows a week, 44 weeks a year.
They returned on stage in February 2009 to raise funds for the new Lou Ruvo Brain Health Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Las Vegas. The brief performance, which also included Montecore, became the basis of an episode on the ABC television show 20/20.
Horn and Fischbacher, both from Germany, teamed up in 1957 and made their debut in Las Vegas a decade later. Siegfried & Roy appeared in the Mirage in 1990.
By the time they signed a lifetime deal with the Mirage in 2001, they’d staged an estimated 5,000 shows at the casino to 10 million fans since 1990, grossing over $ 1 billion. That added to thousands of shows in other locations in previous years.
“In the entire history of Las Vegas, no artist has contributed to the development of Las Vegas’ global reputation as the entertainment capital of the world than Siegfried and Roy,” said Terry Lanni, chairman of MGM Mirage, the parent company of the Attack casino.
The pair gained international recognition for helping save rare white tigers and white lions from extinction. Dozens of rare animals have lived on their $ 10 million compound over the years. The white lions and white tigers were the result of a conservation program that began in the 1980s.
The Siegfried & Roy show, which included animal antics and magic tricks, featured around 20 white tigers and lions, the number varying depending on the night. The show also had other exotic animals, including an elephant.
Fischbacher is survived by his sister Dolore, a nun living in Munich.
– wwith files from The Associated Press