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Obituary: Roy Horn

Half of the duo Siegfried and Roy who wowed the world with magic and wild animals


ANIMAL MAGIC : Roy Hornand

ANIMAL MAGIC : Roy Hornand

ANIMAL MAGIC : Roy Hornand

Roy Horn, who has died aged 75 after contracting Covid-19, was an entertainer who formed half of the magic and wild animal act, Siegfried and Roy.

With his partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, he combined the glamour of Las Vegas with the thrill of the jungle.

But before a packed audience at the Mirage Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas in 2003, a huge male white tiger named Mantacore leapt at Horn, knocking him to the ground and biting him in the neck.

Horn sustained severe blood loss and injuries from which he did not fully recover, but a year later he insisted that he had suffered a stroke and that the tiger had been coming to his aid.

Uwe Ludwig Horn was born on October 3, 1944 at Nordenham on Germany's North Sea coast, the youngest of four children.

Through a family friend who had founded Bremen Zoo he began helping out there, and befriended a cheetah named Chico. He developed such a rapport with the animal that the handlers let him go inside the cage, and even take Chico for walks on a lead.

Hating school, he became a bellboy on a ship belonging to the North German line, Lloyd, at the age of 13, but soon returned home, and was given Chico by the zoo. Taking to the sea again as a steward on the TS Bremen - with Chico smuggled aboard inside a laundry bag - he met Siegfried Fischbacher, who had graduated from steward to magician.

Towards the end of the voyage, Siegfried made Chico "appear", to general amazement. The pair were offered work by a passenger on the ship, the owner of another cruise company, and their double act developed. The pair became domestic as well as professional partners.

In 1964 they took their first theatre booking, at the Astoria in Bremen. Engagements followed in Lausanne, Madrid, Paris, and Monte Carlo, where they performed at the Sporting Club.

They graduated to Las Vegas in the latter half of the 1960s, playing the Tropicana. They rapidly became huge attractions, and after three months there, they played the Lido in Paris for three years.

There followed several profitable years moving between Las Vegas and the Americana Hotel in Puerto Rico. In 1974 they signed up as the star act of Hallelujah Hollywood at the MGM Grand Hotel.

Their career went into overdrive when Bernie Yuman became their manager. He made them the then highest-paid speciality act in Las Vegas history, and from 1978 to 1981, they played the Stardust Lido there, putting on 15 performances a week to 1,140 capacity audiences.

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They followed it with their Beyond Belief show at the Frontier Hotel in the city. It ran for several years, during which time they also squeezed in tours to Japan (where they were the then highest grossing performers in Japanese history), Radio City Music Hall in New York and Germany. In 1989, Steve Wynn gave them a $57m (€52.8m) contract to star at his new 3,303-room hotel in Las Vegas, the Mirage.

By 1997 it was claimed they had been seen at the Mirage by some 20m people, grossed more than £350m and held the box office record for a single attraction in Las Vegas. Their television spectaculars made them famous throughout the US and in Europe.

Following Horn's bloody encounter with Mantacore, it took until 2006 before he could walk, and talk with assistance. Siegfried and Roy, who had become US citizens, announced their retirement in 2010.

Roy Horn died on May 8.

© Telegraph

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]

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