From Meeting on a Cruise Ship to Headlining Vegas: A History of Siegfried and Roy's Friendship

Georgia Slater

When illusionist Roy Horn died at age 75 of complications of the novel coronavirusSiegfried Fischbacher not only lost his business partner but also his best friend.

The pair, who rose to fame as the duo Siegfried & Roy, are best known for their Las Vegas show at the Mirage Resort and Casino that ran from 1990 until 2003, but their story together started decades earlier.

Horn and Fischbacher met on a cruise ship in 1957 where the two were both working at the time, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Fischbacher was getting his start as a magician and Horn became his assistant.

As the German-native had worked with animals growing up at the Bremen Zoo, Horn suggested that Fischbacher incorporate a cheetah into his act, which later became a major element in their shows.

RELATED: Siegfried & Roy Illusionist Roy Horn Dies of Complications from the Coronavirus at 75

After teaming up as an act, the duo took their shows to small clubs in Germany and Switzerland, where they continued to hone in their animal magic shows.

Siegfried & Roy got their big break while performing in a Paris casino in 1967 when a producer in the audience invited them to Las Vegas to try out their material, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

Siegfried & Roy/The Mirage via Getty

The duo not only succeeded, but they proved to be so popular in the 1970s that they became headliners of the "Lido de Paris" show at the Stardust and "Beyond Belief" at the Frontier before opening their paramount show "Siegfried & Roy at The Mirage" in February 1990.

They later showed off their work together nationwide — becoming the subject of four specials on ABC and an additional four on CBS.

Their run at the Mirage Resort and Casino in Las Vegas ended in October 2003 when Horn was attacked by a 600-lb. tiger named Montecore while on stage with Fischbacher. The mauling took place on the Horn's 59th birthday.

Bei/Shutterstock

The incident landed Horn in the hospital with severe blood loss, and he ended up suffering a stroke. Horn appeared on stage with Fischbacher in 2009 for a "final bow" that included an appearance from Montecore.

Following Horn's death on Friday, Fischbacher, 80, said in a statement that he had lost his "best friend."

"Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend," Fischbacher said. "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."

RELATED: Remembering Roy Horn's 2003 Tiger Mauling After Illusionist's Death from Coronavirus

"Roy was a fighter his whole life including during these final days," Fischbacher continued. "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."

Horn tested positive for the respiratory virus last month. At the time, his publicist said that he was "responding well to treatment."