January 14, 2021 | 9:24am | Updated January 14, 2021 | 10:32am
Siegfried Fischbacher, one-half of the flamboyant big cat illusionist act Siegfried and Roy, died Wednesday at his home in Las Vegas. He was 81.
Fischbacher was terminally ill with pancreatic cancer and recently underwent an operation to remove a tumor, his reps announced in a statement to The Post.
He was released from the hospital earlier this month and was being cared for at home by two hospice workers.
The legendary magician’s death comes less than a year after the passing of his longtime stage partner Roy Horn due to complications from COVID-19.
The German-American duo met aboard the TS Bremen cruise ship in 1957, where they bonded over Horn’s pet cheetah, Chico, which he had smuggled on board.
Working as a steward and entertainer, Fischbacher enlisted Horn, the captain’s bellboy, to assist during his nightly magic show. After the performance, Horn asked the question that changed both of their lives: “Siegfried, disappearing rabbits is ordinary, but can you make a cheetah disappear?”
Their eventual act — which blended tiger-taming with David Copperfield-esque magic and a gaudy dose of Liberace glitz — launched in Sin City circa 1967. But it was their $30-million, 14-year run at the Mirage theater, beginning in 1989, that propelled them into global stardom amid the height of the era of excess.
“We did what we did out of love, not for success or money,” Siegfried once said, according to his reps. “We had a deep respect for each other. We literally raised each other: I created Roy and Roy created Siegfried.”
In 2003, Horn suffered a gory career-ending injury when Mantacore, a 400-pound Siberian tiger, sunk its teeth into his neck during a live performance — on his 59th birthday, no less — at the Mirage hotel-casino.
In a 2019 interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the performers said they had made peace with the infamous mauling incident that killed their careers.
“I really don’t miss it,” Fischbacher said at the time. “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.”
Born in Rosenheim, Germany, on June 13, 1939, Fischbacher credited the childhood purchase of a magic book for setting in motion an enduring love for the art of magic. Even after his performing days were finished, Siegfried could be found daily at the Secret Garden of Siegfried & Roy at the Mirage, creating wonderment for the fans with a simple coin trick and always taking time for a photo.
His lifelong mantra: “In magic, anything is possible.”
Siegfried and Roy in Las Vegas, United States on December 1, 1993.
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Fischbacher waves his statuette during the World Awards at Hamburg’s Musikhalle October 22, 2003 in Hamburg, Germany.
Siegfried and Roy at their 1999 Walk of Fame ceremony in Hollywood.
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Siegfried and Roy with 6-week-old tiger cubs June 12, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada
Siegfried & Roy at “Phantasialand” in 1987.
Siegfried speaks during the Keep Memory Alive ‘Power of Love Gala’ benefit at MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 16, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Getty Images for Keep Memory Ali
Siegfried and Roy in 1981.
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A makeshift memorial for Roy Horn is seen in front of bronze busts of Horn and his magician partner Siegfried Fischbacher outside The Mirage Hotel Casino on the Las Vegas Strip on May 9, 2020.
Siegfried and Roy in their private Mirage casino apartment in Las Vegas.
Alamy Stock Photo
The “Saints” aren’t marching in just yet.