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Gay, tiger-levitating Las Vegas magician Roy Horn – who inspired Tiger King’s Joe Exotic – has died after testing positive for COVID-19

Vic Parsons May 10, 2020
Gay tiger-levitating Las Vegas magician Roy Horn has died of COVID-19

World-renowned illusionists and conservationists Siegfried and Roy (right) pose with their white tiger in an undated photo. (Photo courtesy of Siegfried and Roy/The Mirage via Getty Images)

Roy Horn, the tiger-levitating entertainer who dazzled Las Vegas audiences as half of magic duo Siegfried and Roy, has died from COVID-19 complications.

Roy Horn died at MountainView hospital in Las Vegas on Friday (May 8).

He tested positive for the virus last week and the cause of death was complications of COVID-19, according to the New York Times.

Roy and his partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, had one of Vegas’ longest-running and most successful shows.

Known as Siegfried and Roy, the famed duo combined tigers, elephants and magic to create illusions that mesmerised audiences – including Joe Exotic, the subject of Netflix’s Tiger King series, who reportedly was inspired by Roy Horn’s white tigers.

Beginning on cruise ships in the 1970s, the pair used magic tricks and exotic animals to create an act that eventually became legend.

Siegfried and Roy also performed on the nightclub circuit in Europe, to mixed reviews, before receiving one life-changing rave review from Princess Grace of Monaco, better known as Grace Kelly.

Soon after, their Beyond Belief show moved to Las Vegas in 1981 and took up residence at the New Frontier Hotel and Casino.

Using magic and exotic animals combined with glittering costumes and feathery accessories, the show was so successful and popular that it went on a world tour seven years later.

Siegfried and Roy with 6-week-old tiger cubs, June 12, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Denise Truscello/WireImage)

“The world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend,” Fischbacher said in a statement on Friday.

“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.”

Roy was born on October 3, 1944, near Bremen in Germany. He is survived by his long-term partner, Siegfried, and his brother, Werner.

Roy Horn: Career ended when he was mauled by a tiger onstage.

The duo’s 35-year Las Vegas run ended in 2003, the day Roy Horn turned 59, when he was mauled onstage by a white tiger that lunged at his throat and dragged him offstage in front of an audience of thousands.

While there are several different versions of events – including one in which the tiger was spooked by a woman with a beehive haircut sitting in the front row – most accounts agree that the show went as usual until Roy decided to go off-script, holding a microphone to the mouth of Mantecore, a seven-year-old white tiger, and encouraging him to “say hello” to the audience.

Surprised, the tiger bit his sleeve – and when Roy swatted him on the nose and shouted “release”, Mantecore did the opposite.

The tiger picked him up by the neck and carried him offstage, only releasing him when the crew sprayed him with CO2 cannisters.

Roy suffered horrific injuries, including a severed spine and critical blood loss, and never worked again.

It was days before he could communicate, by squeezing his hand, and months until he could walk.

It was the first time anything like that had happened in more than 30,000 Siegfried and Roy shows, which had included elephants, lions and cheetahs.

“Throughout the history of Las Vegas, no artists have meant more to the development of Las Vegas’s global reputation as the entertainment capital of the world than Siegfried and Roy,” J. Terrence Lanni, who was the chairman of MGM Mirage, said after the attack.

“They are so much more than the stars of the Mirage. They are the very heart of our resort.”

More: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Grace Kelly, Joe Exotic, Las Vegas, roy horn, Tiger King, white tiger

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