Siegfried Fischbacher, one half of the world-famous magic act Siegfried & Roy, has died, aged 81.
His death comes eight months after his on-stage partner Roy Horn died of complications from COVID-19. He was aged 75.
Fischbacher passed away at his Las Vegas home from pancreatic cancer, according to his publicist Dave Kirvin.
German news agency DPA says Fischbacher's sister, a nun who lives in Munich, also confirmed his death from cancer.
"He was at home in Las Vegas," Sister Dolore told DPA. She said she talked to her brother on the phone before he died and they prayed together.
"I could pray with him and tell him that I will always be with him in my heart," she said.
After the call, he lay down and fell asleep, she added.
Born in Rosenheim, Germany, on June 13, 1939, he was drawn as an 8-year-old to a magic book he saw in a shop.
"My eye caught something in the window; it was a book on magic," he said in his bio on the their site. "I knew I had to have it. I can't explain, even now, why that was. All that stood in the way was five marks — for me a fortune, a fortune for any little boy in Germany in 1947."
As he walked away, he said, he found five marks on the sidewalk and immediately returned to purchase the book.
Horn and Fischbacher, both natives of Germany, first teamed up in 1957 and made their Las Vegas debut a decade later.
For years, Siegfried & Roy was an institution in Las Vegas, where Fischbacher and Horn's magic and artistry consistently attracted sellout crowds. The pair performed six shows a week, 44 weeks per year.
In a statement announcing Horn's death in May, 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."
He later told Germany's weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper his best friend would always stay by his side.
"For dinner, I will continue to have the table set for him, too. like it always was the case. I'm not alone," DPA quoted Fischbacher as telling the newspaper.
Horn and Fischbacher met on the TS Bremen cruise ship in 1957, where Siegfried was working as a steward and entertainer.
He enlisted Horn, the captain's bellboy, to assist during his nightly magic show. It was Horn who eventually suggested using a cheetah in the act.
They honed their animal-magic show in small clubs in Germany and Switzerland in the mid-1960s. Their break came in a Monte Carlo casino when an agent in the audience invited them to Las Vegas. The pair made their debut at the Tropicana hotel-casino in the late 1960s.
The illusionists became popular in the 1970s, receiving their first star billing in 1978 as headliners of the Stardust's Lido de Paris. Their show Beyond Belief opened in 1981 at the Frontier and played to thousands over seven years.
When they signed a lifetime contract with the Mirage in 2001, it was estimated they had performed 5,000 shows at the casino for 10 million fans since 1990 and had grossed more than US$1 billion ($1.287b).
The pair gained international recognition for helping to save rare white tigers and white lions from extinction. Their $10 million compound was home to dozens of rare animals over the years. The white lions and white tigers were the result of a preservation program that began in the 1980s.
The Siegfried & Roy show incorporated animal antics and magic tricks, featuring 20 white tigers and lions, the number varying depending on the night. The show also had other exotic animals, including an elephant.
However, the duo were forced into retirement in 2003 after Mantecore, a 181kg white tiger who regularly performed with the pair, bit Horn on the neck and dragged him off-stage during a packed show on his 59th birthday at the Mirage.
Horn suffered a stroke during the incident, though the official line is that the stroke occurred on-stage, causing him to fall, which is when Mantecore dragged the performer off-stage for help, he told People magazine in 2004. The incident left Horn partially paralysed.
They continued travelling and appearing at events before officially retiring in 2010.
In a 2019 interview with Good Morning America, Fischbacher said they had put the mauling incident and their careers behind them.
"I really don't miss it," he said at the time. "We have been on stage in Vegas just by themselves for 40 years on stage, you know? And we had the most successful show in the history of Las Vegas anyway."
A funeral service for Fischbacher will be private with plans for a public memorial to be held in the future.
- Reported with Associated Press and CNN
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