Roy Horn, half of the Las Vegas stage duo Siegfried & Roy, died of complications due to the coronavirus Friday. He was 75.

“Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend,” Siegfried Fischbacher said in a statement to the Reno Gazette Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network. “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 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.”

Roy Horn tested positive for the contagious respiratory illness in late April.Lifelong love of animals
Horn was born in Germany in 1944. He began his work with animals at age 10, adopting a wolfdog and cheetah from the Bremen Zoo, which was owned by a family friend. While working as a steward on a cruise ship, Horn met Fischbacher, who performed a magic stage show on the ship. According to a press release, Horn proposed creating a show that would combine magic and animals. Horn, who had smuggled his pet cheetah aboard the ship, asked Fischbacher, “Siegfried, disappearing rabbits are ordinary, but can you make a cheetah disappear?”

“In magic, anything is possible,” Fischbacher replied.

The duo’s show toured Europe before landing in Las Vegas in 1967, performing as part of Las Vegas stage shows Folies Bergere, Hallelujah Hollywood and Lido de Paris. By 1981, they became headliners at the New Frontier Hotel and Casino before moving to The Mirage in 1989.

2003 mauling ended stage show’s 30-year run
Horn was mauled and dragged offstage by Montecore, a 400-pound Siberian tiger, during a live show on Oct. 3, 2003, ending Siegfried & Roy’s successful Las Vegas run.

Horn was rushed to the hospital and survived multiple surgeries. Following he attack, he had difficulty walking and talking, which a 2005 USDA report said was the result of a crushed windpipe and damage to an artery carrying oxygen to Horn’s brain.

The performers were working toward a return to the stage as late as 2007, telling the Las Vegas Review-Journal that a new show was “in the experimental stage” even as Horn continued his recovery from the mauling.