Star magician dead aged 81
Magician Siegfried Fischbacher, part of the iconic Las Vegas duo Siegfried & Roy, has died at the age of 81.
The illusionist died at his home on Wednesday after a battle with pancreatic cancer, his publicist Dave Kirvin confirmed.
It comes only eight months after the death of his showbiz partner Roy Horn, 75, in May last year due to COVID-19 complications.
Fischbacher said at the time of Horn's death: "The world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend".
The German-American duo, renowned for their appearances with white lions and white tigers, launched their career in the 1950s.
They began appearances on the European nightclub circuit before venturing to Las Vegas in 1967.
The pair had a long-running show Siegfried & Roy at the Mirage Resort and Casino, which featured their beloved animals.
They were thought to be romantically involved at one stage but rarely discussed their private life.
The show's run came to a halt in 2003 after Horn was attacked by a tiger during one of their Vegas shows.
Seven-year-old tiger, Montecore, bit Horn's neck during the show and dragged him offstage, where trainers sprayed the tiger with fire extinguishers.
Horn had a stroke and was left with a severed spine.
He told People in 2004 that Montecore "saved" his life by trying to drag him to safety after he had a stroke.
But one of the onstage trainers from that night has repeatedly disputed some of the details.
Chris Lawrence, who said he now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after the incident, told The Hollywood Reporter in March 2019 that mistakes triggered the tiger to lunge.
Lawrence said Horn had been spending too little time with the tigers before the shows - eroding the bond between animals and performer.
"Many of the handlers thought that Roy was treating the cats more like props than he was respecting them for who they were," he told the news outlet. "That can only work as long as there are no variables, which is impossible considering that you're dealing with a living, thinking animal."
But appearing on Good Morning America in August 2019, Siegfried insisted that Montecore was "of course" just trying to help him offstage.
He said he had "no idea" why Lawrence came forward with this story, adding, "He had problems with his life anyway."
Originally published as Star magician dead aged 81