After riding high as some of the most revered performers in Vegas, tragedy struck Siegfried and Roy – and seemingly overnight, the performers disappeared from the spotlight, though their fans remained. The legendary German-American duo best-known for their Las Vegas animal acts had fans all around the world, who are now mourning the loss of Roy Horn, who died on May 8, 2020 from COVID-19 complications and Siegfried Fischbacher, who died of cancer on Jan. 13, 2021.
What exactly happened to Siegfried and Roy?
The jovial duo, who you likely remember from their popular show at the Mirage Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, were synonymous with showbiz. They even appeared in some pretty hilarious commercials together.
Everything was going great for the duo until things took an unexpectedly tragic turn.
Siegfried and Roy, who were widely regarded as some of the most popular magicians and illusionists in the business, were best known for using tigers as part of their act without any incident.
But on Oct. 3, 2003, Roy Horn reportedly suffered a stroke, causing his partner animal — a gorgeous 7-year-old white tiger named Montecore — to miss the cues Roy was giving him.
Roy fell over Montecore's paw, and Montecore dragged the magician off of the stage — unintentionally injuring him in the process.
According to doctors, who later treated Roy at the UNLV Trauma center, it was unclear if Roy had a stroke before or after being mauled by the tiger.
Roy did not blame his tiger Montecore for the attack.
But it was immaterial at the time, as Roy had sustained critical injuries and was losing a considerable amount of blood. Still, even though Roy had been removed from the stage and the tiger separated from him, he was more concerned about Montecore's safety.
He allegedly asked the hospital staff and those around him on the way there to ensure "no harm" would come to the animal.
In fact, he later told People in 2004 that Montecore had, in fact, "saved his life" in an attempt to take him off of the stage to make sure he was "safe." The veracity of this statement is unclear, of course, but it did little to save Siegfried and Roy's show at the Mirage.
Following the incident, the Mirage ended the show and laid off nearly 300 cast members. Roy was left with severe injuries including a crushed windpipe and damage to an artery that carried oxygen to his brain.
It left him with difficulty with both walking and talking as a result. That event effectively ended the pair's career in magic and show business the way they knew it, though the pair carried on with a variety of different endeavors later on in life.
Roy tested positive for the novel coronavirus and died on May 8.
On April 28, it was announced that Roy, 75, had tested positive for COVID-19. Though it was reported that he was responding well to treatment, the legendary illusionist died on May 8.
In a heartbreaking statement, his longtime partner and friend Siegfried said, "Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend. 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," he said. "Roy’s whole life was about defying the odds. He grew up with very little and became famous throughout the world for his showmanship, flair and his life-long commitment to animal conservation. He had a strength and will unlike anyone I have ever known.”
What was Siegfried's cause of death?
On Jan. 14, 2021, Siegfried's family confirmed to the public that Siegfried had lost a battle with pancreatic cancer the day before. He was 81 years old and had undergone a 12-hour surgery to remove a malignant tumor. Afterward, he chose to be discharged from the hospital and receive hospice care from his home.
Not long after his cancer diagnosis was reported to the world, Siegfried died, less than a year following Roy's own sudden death and after a career that lasted nearly a lifetime.