Siegfried and Roy, the longtime magician duo, were former lovers and lifelong friends. Roy Horn died from complications of COVID-19 on May 8, 2020, and eight months later, Siegfried Fischbacher died from pancreatic cancer. The couple rarely talked about their relationship or about their sexuality publicly.
After Horn suffered life-altering injuries in an onstage attack by a tiger, Mantacore (also spelled Mantecore), Fischbacher became a caregiver for Horn, according to The Hollywood Reporter. They lived on an estate in Las Vegas called Little Bavaria, equipped with “hip-high railings along winding paths.” Horn could walk short distances and could “talk only with difficulty,” The Hollywood Reporter reported in 2019.
The magician duo met early in life when they bonded over magic and remained close for more than half a century. The closeness of their relationship was apparent on the September 27, 2019, episode of 20/20. Although Horn had difficulty speaking, he often finished Fischbacher’s sentences.
The two men had a long history together. They met in 1957 on a luxury liner, TS Bremen, where they both worked. Fischbacher got his start in magic on the ship after performing for the crew and asked Horn to join him in his performances. Thus, Siegfried & Roy was formed. Both men were both born in Germany during World War II. Horn’s mother went into labor during Allied bombings on her town. You can read more about their backgrounds here.
Here’s what you need to know:
Siegfried & Roy Were Described as Lifelong Friends & Former Lovers
The Hollywood Reporter described Horn as Fischbacher’s former lover in a March 28, 2019, article. Reporter Gary Baum wrote, “Fischbacher, now 79, went on to extravagantly care for his lifelong friend and former lover Horn, 74, at their Little Bavaria estate in Vegas, whose sprawling, rustic grounds are outfitted with hip-high rails along winding paths to make it easier for Horn to get around. Today, he’s able to stroll short distances when not confined to a scooter and can talk only with difficulty.”
The duo often avoided speaking publicly about their relationship. A 2008 scholarly article titled “Escape to Queer Mountain: Siegfried & Roy, Queer Adolescence and the Cultural Imaginary” said Fischbacher and Horn never identified as gay, although a relationship was often publicly assumed. One of the theories behind the 2003 tiger attack on Horn was that a terrorist provoked an attack on the duo because they were high-profile gay targets, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That theory was dismissed.
The Advocate Magazine Questioned Why ‘Media’ Ignored Siegfried & Roy’s Relationship After 2003 Tiger Attack
A 2003 article from The Advocate magazine said “the media” ignored Siegfried & Roy’s relationship after Horn was attacked by a tiger onstage in Las Vegas, Nevada, leaving him partially paralyzed. There have been occasional references to the duo’s relationship, but the couple never talked openly about their relationship or about their own sexuality.
According to the article, the duo “avoided answering the question in a 1999 Vanity Fair interview” and had little to no “presence in the gay community” in Las Vegas. The Advocate reported that a spokesperson for the Mirage Hotel and Casino, where Siegfried & Roy performed for more than a decade, said, “It’s well-known that they were lovers at one time.”
Horn told Vanity Fair in 1999 they were “married to our profession. We are married to what we believe, and we are married to the whole substance of our beings.” Fischbacher told the magazine, “Siegfried and Roy, who are friends, respect each other and went there without being married.” They seemed shocked but ultimately pleased at being called “homosexual icons” by reporter Matt Tyrnauer, according to his Vanity Fair article.
Fischbacher responded, “In my life I have a lot of friends who are gay, and I made a lot of friends in show business, and I found out that they are always interesting, intelligent, and good people, and fun to be with. They are very open-minded. They are not narrow-minded. If I am an icon to them, it is wonderful, because gay people are always very loyal…. And, you know, when you go back in history, there are great names in the arts and in every field, so be my guest.” Horn added, “I am flattered to think that people think that I am versatile. You don’t have to define everything, and I don’t want to disillusion people. Besides, I’m not a guy who kisses and tells.”
Fischbacher told CNN host Larry King in 2003 after the tiger attack, “It was 44 years we have been together. … It is a relationship second to none.”
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