It's kind of hard to pin down exactly what people's fascinations are with the amalgamation of big stages and big felines. Cats ran on broadway for 18 years and was featured in a number of stage productions all over the world. For one reason or another, the musical captivated the imaginations of folks across the globe. The biggest stage in streaming, Netflix, shattered docu-series records with Tiger King and for 40 years, Las Vegas featured the on-stage Tiger-themed spectacle of Siegfried and Roy. Fans of the duo have long wondered: Were they ever a couple?
Yes, Siegfried and Roy were reportedly a couple.
The on-stage pair were reportedly romantically involved with one another at least one point in their lives, but this was neither confirmed nor denied by the two men. What is known is how devoted they were to each other. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Siegfried Fischbacher became Roy Horn's primary caretaker after Roy's much-publicized tiger attack.
The two men were connected by a shared fondness for magic and spectacle and they first met in 1957 while working aboard the TS Bremen, a luxury liner. Siegfried was known for performing magic tricks for other members of the crew and asked Roy to join in on his performances, which is how the duo Siegfried and Roy was first formed.
When Roy was attacked on-stage by one of the tigers the duo used in the shows, it was Siegfried who cared for him.
On October 3, 2003 during one of their performances, a tiger named Montecore lunged at Roy's throat. A show aide rushed to the man to attempt to pull the tiger away from the performer and pry its jaws loose.
The injuries Roy sustained were life-changing. It became difficult for him to speak at length without discomfort and walking short distances by himself became a labored task.
The Hollywood Reporter's 2019 article about the men described their lives after the attack: "Fischbacher, now 79, went on to extravagantly care for his lifelong friend and former lover Horn, 74, at their Little Bavaria estate in Vegas, whose sprawling, rustic grounds are outfitted with hip-high rails along winding paths to make it easier for Horn to get around. Today, he’s able to stroll short distances when not confined to a scooter and can talk only with difficulty."
The two men never publicly identified themselves as gay, but they had an assumed romantic relationship according to a 2008 article called Escape to Queer Mountain: Siegfried and Roy, Queer Adolescence and the Cultural Imaginary. The duo's 1999 film Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Box was played at the San Francisco International Lesbian & Gay Festival as per SFGate.
In a 1999 Vanity Fair interview, the two men didn't answer whether or not they were married. Roy Horn only said: "[We are] married to our profession. We are married to what we believe, and we are married to the whole substance of our beings."
As for being "homosexual icons," although the two didn't have a strong presence in the Las Vegas gay community, they were pleased as being viewed as such.
Siegfried also said, "In my life I have a lot of friends who are gay, and I made a lot of friends in show business, and I found out that they are always interesting, intelligent, and good people, and fun to be with. They are very open-minded. They are not narrow-minded. If I am an icon to them, it is wonderful, because gay people are always very loyal ... And, you know, when you go back in history, there are great names in the arts and in every field, so be my guest."
He added, "I am flattered to think that people think that I am versatile. You don’t have to define everything, and I don’t want to disillusion people. Besides, I’m not a guy who kisses and tells."
In a 2003 interview with Larry King, Siegfried said "It was 44 years we have been together. … It is a relationship second to none."
On May 8, 2020, Roy Horn passed away due to complications from COVID-19 and on January 13, 2021, Siegfried Fischbacher passed away due to pancreatic cancer. Roy was 75 and Siegfried was 81 at the times of their deaths.