Last Curtain Call for Las Vegas Legends Siegfried and Roy | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 01.03.2009
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Last Curtain Call for Las Vegas Legends Siegfried and Roy

Legendary Las Vegas performers Roy Horn and Siegfried Fischbacher said farewell to show business Saturday, more than five years after a near-fatal on-stage tiger attack that ended their long-running double act.

Illusionists Siegfried and Roy with two white tigetr cubs in Las Vegas.

The extravagent Siegfried and Roy call time on their long-standing career in Vegas

The German-born duo -- more commonly known as Siegfried & Roy -- have not performed since October 2003, when Horn was seriously injured after being mauled by a 380-pound tiger in front of 1,500 horrified audience members.

However Horn, 64, and Fischbacher, 69, appeared for one last trick in a benefit dinner at the Bellagio Hotel-Casino in Vegas Saturday that also featured the tiger that had attacked Horn five-and-a-half years ago.

In their farewell trick, Siegfried & Roy appeared on stage, both masked and hooded in medieval garb so as to keep the audience in suspense as to who was who, with two large, empty glass boxes.

Fischbacher was then sealed in one box and both covered up; when Horn uncovered the boxes Fischbacher had moved to the other box and in his place was Montecore, the tiger that nearly killed Horn.

Neither Horn nor Fischbacher spoke during the 10-minute performance which brought the crowd to its feet.

After an extended ovation, the curtain came down and an announcer declared: "The spirit of Siegfried and Roy have left the building."

"The last time we closed, we didn't have a lot of warning," said the duo's longtime manager Bernie Yuman. "This is farewell. This is the dot at the end of the sentence."

Roy the walking miracle returns

Siegfried & Roy in Las Vegas

The big cats weren't the only hairy things back in the day

Horn walked haltingly but steadily, remarkable in and of itself for a man who was not expected to survive after the tiger bit into his neck on stage at The Mirage Hotel-Casino where they starred for more than 13 years.

He suffered subsequent strokes, had experimental brain surgery and spent years in rehabilitation at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.

The cause of the attack has never been clear and both MGM Mirage, owners of the resort where it took place, and the US government's animal welfare investigators refused to release video of that night's show.

The duo raise white tigers from infancy and videos around the Mirage showed Horn frolicking and wrestling with them at their Las Vegas estate.

Mystery still surrounds Montecore attack

Siegfried & Roy on stage in Las Vegas

Montecore allegedly got a bit miffed at being whacked on the nose

Fischbacher told CNN talk show host Larry King that Horn fell during the act and that Montecore was dragging Horn to safety, but audience members told reporters that Horn lost his handle on the animal's restraint and, when the tiger lunged at Horn, the illusionist bopped him on the nose and angered it further.

Siegfried & Roy were among the most recognizable and successful acts in Las Vegas history, performing more than 5,700 shows at the Mirage before 10.5 million people and grossing more than 1.5 billion in ticket sales, according to MGM Mirage.

A bronze statue remains along the Strip outside the Mirage and the Siegfried & Roy Secret Garden at the resort continues to display white tigers, lions and other exotic animals.

Saturday's appearance benefited the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, a 70 million Las Vegas neuroscience research center and hospital due to open later this year in a building designed by architect Frank Gehry.

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