Roy Horn
Photo: Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images

Roy Horn Biography

(1944–2020)
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Roy Horn was half of the headlining Las Vegas magical duo Siegfried & Roy who survived severe injuries after an onstage tiger attack.

Who Was Roy Horn?

Roy Horn joined Siegfried Fischbacher to become the magical act Siegfried & Roy, putting on headlining Las Vegas shows for almost three decades. In 2003, Horn was mauled on stage by one of the tigers used in the act and suffered major injuries. Following his lengthy recuperation, the duo reunited for a final appearance in 2009.

Meeting Seigfried

In 1957, while working as a waiter on an ocean liner, Horn met Siegfried Fischbacher, who was working as a steward while performing magic tricks on the side. Horn volunteered to be Siegfried's assistant and soon the pair was collaborating, upping the ante from making a rabbit disappear to vanishing a cheetah.

For the next five years, they performed throughout Europe, playing for little money. They eventually received their big break while performing at a casino in Monte Carlo, where a scout spotted them and invited them to do their act in Las Vegas.

Siegfried and Roy went on to combine magic tricks with tiger stunts in Las Vegas for more than 30 years, at first with shared billing and eventually as their own show. In addition to their hugely popular performances, they became active preservationists of rare white tigers and white lions. The duo created a special compound outside of Las Vegas for the birthing, care and conservation of these animals.

Roy Horn and Siegfried Fischbacher in their private apartment at the Mirage Hotel on the Vegas Strip, 2011

Roy Horn and Siegfried Fischbacher in their private apartment at the Mirage Hotel on the Vegas Strip, 2011

Tiger Attack and Retirement

In October 2003, the show was brought to its knees when a white tiger brutally attacked Horn during a performance, leaving the trainer in critical condition. The show was closed down indefinitely following the incident. A year later, Horn remained partially paralyzed, but continued to insist that the animal was not at fault. He claimed that he fainted on stage and that the 380-pound tiger was only trying to help him by dragging him off stage. By September 2005, Horn was walking on his own, a recovery many called miraculous.

Siegfried and Roy reunited for one final performance in February 2009, before formally retiring the following year.

Death

Horn passed away in a Las Vegas hospital on May 8, 2020, due to complications from Covid-19.

"Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend,” Siegfried said in a statement. "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."

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