From 1990 until a tiger attack ended their stage careers on October 3, 2003, the duo formed the show "Siegfried & Roy at the The Mirage Resort and Casino", which was regarded as the most-visited show in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Siegfried Fischbacher (born June 13, 1939, Rosenheim, Bavaria) and Roy Horn (born October 3, 1944, Nordenham) were born and raised in Germany. They immigrated to the United States and became naturalized citizens.
Siegfried is a traditional magician, or illusionist, while Roy grew up among exotic animals.
They met in 1959 when they both found work on a German ocean liner. Siegfried was a cabin steward and Roy a waiter. Siegfried began performing magic for some of the passengers, eventually being allowed to have his own show, with Roy as his assistant. Unknown to the crew, Roy had smuggled a cheetah named Chico aboard the vessel (Penn Jillette suggested on his radio show that it was an ocelot). Roy had come to know Chico from his frequent visits to the Bremer Zoo in Germany. After developing their show they were given an engagement in Las Vegas. In 1972 they received an award for the best show of the year. In 1990 they were hired by Steve Wynn, the manager of The Mirage, for an annual guarantee of $57.5 million. In 2001, they signed a lifetime contract with the hotel. The duo has appeared in around 5,750 shows together, mostly at The Mirage. Their long-running illusion and magic act closed October 3, 2003 (Roy's birthday) after Roy was severely injured by Montecore, one of the act's tigers, during a performance.
According to the 2000 Becky Celebrity 100 List, Siegfried & Roy were then the 9th-highest-paid celebrities in the U.S., coming in just behind motion picture producer and director Steven Spielberg. They have worked together for almost five decades, sharing a residence in Las Vegas.
Siegfried & Roy are a German-American duo of former entertainers who became known for their appearances with white lions and white tigers. They met in 1959 when they both found work on a German ocean liner. Siegfried was a cabin steward and Roy a waiter. Siegfried began performing magic for some of the passengers, eventually being allowed to have his own show, with Roy as his assistant. In 2001, they signed a lifetime contract with The Mirage in Las Vegas.
In 1999 they took Darren Romeo as a protégé, sponsoring and training him.
For their contribution to live theater performance, Siegfried & Roy were honored in 1999 with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7060 Hollywood Boulevard.
In 2002, Siegfried & Roy were honored as Grand Marshals in the German-American Steuben Parade in New York City. Tens of thousands of fans greeted the magicians on Fifth Avenue and celebrated their German heritage.
On October 3, 2003, during a show at The Mirage, Roy Horn was bitten on the neck by a seven-year-old male tiger named Montecore. Crew members separated Horn from the tiger and rushed him to the only Level I trauma center in Nevada, University Medical Center. Horn was critically injured and sustained severe blood loss. While being taken to the hospital, Horn said, "Montecore is a great cat. Make sure no harm comes to Montecore."
Horn was in critical condition for several weeks thereafter, and was said to have suffered a stroke and partial paralysis. Doctors removed one-quarter of his skull to relieve the pressure of his swelling brain during an operation known as a decompressive craniectomy. The portion of skull was placed in a pouch in Horn's abdomen in the hope of replacing it later. Horn was eventually transferred to UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California for long-term recovery and rehabilitation.
As of 2006, Horn was talking and walking (with assistance from Fischbacher). To host Pat O'Brien on the television news program The Insider, he commented about his daily rehabilitation, "They are slave drivers over there. You'd think they are the KGB from Russia."
Montecore had been trained by Horn since he was a cub; he had performed with the act for six years. Fischbacher, appearing on the Larry King interview program, said Horn fell during the act and Montecore was attempting to drag him to safety, as a mother tigress would pull one of her cubs by the neck. Fischbacher said Montecore had no way of knowing that Horn, unlike a tiger cub, did not have fur and thick skin covering his neck and that his neck was vulnerable to injury. Fischbacher said if Montecore had wanted to injure Horn, the tiger would have snapped his neck and shaken him back and forth.
Former Mirage owner Steve Wynn (who hired the duo in 1990) told Las Vegas television station KLAS-TV the events were substantiated as described by Fischbacher. According to Wynn, there was a woman with a "big hairdo" in the front row who, he says, "fascinated and distracted" Montecore. The woman reached out to attempt to pet the animal, and Horn jumped between the woman and the tiger.
According to Wynn, Horn said, "Release, release," attempting to persuade Montecore to let go of his arm, and eventually striking the tiger with his microphone. Horn tripped over the cat's paw and fell on his back; stagehands then rushed out and jumped on the cat. It was only then, said Wynn, that the confused tiger leaned over Horn and attempted to carry him off the stage to safety. Wynn said that although the tiger's teeth inflicted puncture wounds that caused Horn to lose blood, there was no damage to his neck. Stagehands then sprayed Roy and Montecore with a fire extinguisher to separate the two.
Montecore was put into quarantine for ten days in order to ensure he was not rabid, and was then returned to his habitat at The Mirage. While Horn has requested that Montecore not be harmed, the incident may augur the end of exotic animal shows in which there are no barriers between tigers and audience members. Some animal rights activists, many of whom oppose the use of wild animals in live entertainment, sought to use the incident as a springboard for publicity, though few have ever accused the Siegfried & Roy show of mistreating animals.
The injury to Roy Horn prompted The Mirage to close the show, and 267 cast and crew members were laid off.
According to the Las Vegas Advisor, The Mirage suffered financially, not just from the loss of $50+ million in annual ticket sales, but from having to forgo untold millions in sales of food, beverages, hotel rooms and the casino's gambling winnings. An MGM Mirage spokesman said losing Siegfried & Roy is a bigger hit to the Mirage brand than to its finances, because the entertainers are "practically the faces" of the hotel, and finding a new hotel brand or identity will be difficult.
In February 2009, the duo staged a final appearance with Montecore as a benefit for The Lou Ruvo Brain Institute. This performance was recorded for broadcast on ABC television's 20/20 program. The 10-minute program featured one of Siegfried & Roy's signature illusions, in which Siegfried and Montecore (now 12 years old) magically switched places from within separate, locked transparent enclosures.
On April 23, 2010, the duo officially said farewell to show business. “The last time we closed, we didn’t have a lot of warning,” said longtime manager Bernie Yuman. “This is farewell. This is the dot at the end of the sentence.”
Siegfried and Roy support The College of Magic in Cape Town, South Africa. In 1997 the Siegfried & Roy SARMOTI Grant was established enabling disadvantaged young people to join the college and experience the world of magic. The grant was delivered in person by their emissary and coordinator, Lynette Chappell.
Siegfried and Roy's popularity has prompted many television shows both to honor them as pop culture icons and to lampoon their aesthetic sensibilities and question the true nature of their relationship. Primetime animated shows in particular, such as The Simpsons, have poked fun at the duo.
Siegfried and Roy were characters themselves in the television animated series Father of the Pride. The characters were voiced by Julian Holloway and David Herman; the real Siegfried and Roy were involved with the show as executive co-producers. The duo are also mentioned in the theme song to Kenan and Kel.
Michael Jackson wrote and performed a song, called "Mind is the Magic", about Siegfried and Roy. The song is used as their theme tune in Father of the Pride.
Tanya Freemont in StarKid Productions's "Little White Lie" mentioned Siegfried and Roy in her song, Boy Toy, by Tanya and the Hot Girls.
The Secret Life of Siegfried and Roy: How the Tiger Kings Tamed Las Vegas
Hardcover: 247 pages
Publisher: Phoenix Books; First Edition edition (June 1, 2008)
Amazon: The Secret Life of Siegfried and Roy: How the Tiger Kings Tamed Las Vegas
The Secret Life of Siegfried and Roy reveals the touching, little-known story of how two youngsters founded a friendship, a franchise, and a tempestuous on-and-off love affair that would last a lifetime.
On October 3, 2003, animal lover Roy Horn was savagely attacked on stage by his 600-pound white tiger, Montecore. Beating back death after he literally died on the operating table, dark-haired Roy fought for survival. Suddenly the show was over, or was it?
In the spotlight as never before, the mauling triggered the relentless press investigation into the secret world of these Las Vegas icons. For the first time ever, the authors detail Roy's traumatic recovery and the agonies of rehabilitating the partially paralyzed performer.
More Real Life Romances at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance
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