Siegfried Fischbacher, one half of the iconic magic duo Siegfried and Roy, has died at 81, reported Newsweek Thursday. The entertainer, best known for his appearances alongside lions and tigers, died Wednesday at his home in Las Vegas following a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Fischbacher reportedly underwent a 12-hour surgery to remove a malignant tumor, but surgeons quickly learned that the disease had spread throughout his body. The longtime Vegas performer was then reportedly released from the hospital at his request, at which point he returned to his home, where he was cared for by nurses until his death.
Fischbacher died just months after his longtime performing partner, Roy Horn, died at 75 following a COVID-19 infection in May. "Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend. 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," Fischbacher told TMZ at the time. "Roy was a fighter his whole life, including during these final days. 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."
A week before his death, Horn's publicist said the magician was "responding well to treatment," adding, "Most importantly, Siegfried & Roy send positive wishes to everyone impacted by the pandemic. We will have no further comment on Roy’s recovery at this time and ask everyone to respect his right to privacy."
Together, Siegfried and Roy became one of the most famous Vegas acts of all time, headlining at The Mirage for 13 years, before a tragic accident with one of the big cats left Horn partially paralyzed in 2003. The duo continued performing in other capacities after the Mirage show was shut down following the incident but announced in April 2010 that they were retiring for good from entertainment. Their lives were set to be chronicled in a biopic directed by Philipp Stolzi, but there have been few updates since then.
As for performing, Fischbacher told ABC News in 2019. "I really don't miss it. 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."