Las Vegas magicians Siegfried & Roy, who are considered legends of the Las Vegas Strip, were also named Magicians of the Century by their fellow magicians around the world. They were rewarded for their dedication to magic and were voted Magicians of the Century at the brotherhood of magic’s International Magicians Society (I.M.S.) Millennium Merlin Award ceremony.
Both Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn are from Germany. While Roy was fascinated with animals and had spent much of his time befriending exotic animals at Bremen Zoo, Siegfried, on the other hand, was drawn to the world of magic early in life. When he was nine years old, he came across a book of magic and purchased it with a five-mark bill that he happened to find on the street. Siegfried grew up in the town of Rosenheim, Germany, while Roy grew up in Nordenham.
In his youth, Roy spent a lot of time at the Bremen Zoo where he eventually gained the trust of a two-year-old cheetah named Chico. Eventually, the zookeeper allowed Roy to enter the cheetah’s den and feed and care for it.
In 1953, Siegfried and Roy left their respective schools. Siegfried worked for a time in a carpet factory. In 1956, he took a job at the Lago di Garda resort and began to perform magic. Siegfried and Roy later worked on the same ocean liner. Siegfried worked as a steward while Roy worked as a waiter. When Roy saw Siegfried perform magic in front of the ocean liner’s guests, he proposed a business partnership allowing them to use a cheetah on board. Roy then became Siegfried’s assistant and the partnership proved to be a great success.
For the next five years, they stayed busy playing in small clubs all across Europe and later accepted an offer to work as Las Vegas entertainers. They took the U.S. by storm. As they became popular, a review noted “while they give audiences great pleasure on stage, they have given back magnificent animals to the world. Bringing the white tiger and white lion back from near extinction and into the new century is a magical accomplishment. It’s amazing that such a feat would emanate from Las Vegas. It shows the perseverance and dedication of these special human beings.”
On Oct. 3, 2003, their future in entertainment was threatened when Roy was injured during a performance. A tiger picked him up by his neck and carried him off stage. Siegfried and Roy maintain the tiger was only attempting to get Roy to a safer place after Roy suffered a heart attack during the show. Roy was treated at the MGM Mirage Hotel-Casino for massive blood loss before he was rushed to the University Medical Center for emergency surgery. Despite his slow recovery, the pair continued including animals in their show.
Last January, Siegfried and Roy officially announced the duo were retiring from entertainment. The incident in 2003 had partly paralyzed Roy. It was a sad way for their fans to start a new year but the laughter they created will linger and they will remain idols for magicians who follow in their path.
Siegfred and Roy Documentary
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