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Illusionist Siegfried Fischbacher dies aged 81 in Las Vegas after a battle with cancer

Illusionist Siegfried Fischbacher, one half of the legendary duo Siegfried & Roy, has died aged 81 in Las Vegas after a battle with cancer. 

Fischbacher's sister, a nun who lives in Munich, confirmed her brother's death to German news agency dpa Thursday. 

'He was at home in Las Vegas,' Sister Dolore said. 

She said she talked to her brother on the phone before he died and they prayed together.

'I could pray with him and tell him that I will always be with him in my heart,' she said.

After the call, he laid down and fell asleep, she said.  

Fischbacher's publicist Dave Kirvin confirmed in a statement that he died Wednesday and said the funeral service will be private 'with plans for a public memorial in the future'. 

His death comes just days after reports surfaced that the famed magician was terminally ill with pancreatic cancer.

A report from German publication Bild Monday said he had undergone a 12-hour operation to remove a malignant tumor and was being cared for at his Las Vegas home by two hospice workers. 

His last public appearance was on August 26, at the dedication of Siegfried & Roy Drive at The Mirage Hotel - where the duo had performed their iconic show for more than a decade and where Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden is located. 

Fischbacher's death comes just eight months after his long-time show business partner Roy Horn died aged 75 at a Las Vegas hospital in May of complications from COVID-19.

Illusionist Siegfried Fischbacher, one half of the legendary duo Siegfried & Roy, has died aged 81 in Las Vegas after a battle with cancer. Fischbacher pictured at the 23rd annual Keep Memory Alive 'Power of Love Gala' benefit at MGM Grand Garden Arena in March 2019

Pictured Siegfried & Roy in 2002 with Monticore, the 7-year-old rare snowhite Siberian tiger that attacked Roy on stage in 2003

Fischbacher's sister, a nun who lives in Munich, confirmed her brother's (pictured) death to German news agency dpa Thursday

The illusionist duo astonished millions with their extraordinary magic tricks until Horn was critically injured in 2003 by one of the act's famed white tigers.

For years, Siegfried & Roy was an institution in Las Vegas, where Fischbacher and Horn's magic and artistry consistently attracted sellout crowds. 

The pair performed six shows a week, 44 weeks per year.

Horn and Fischbacher, both natives of Germany, first teamed up in 1957 and made their Las Vegas debut a decade later. 

Siegfried & Roy began performing at the Mirage in 1990.

The pair gained international recognition for helping to save rare white tigers and white lions from extinction. 

Their $10 million compound was home to dozens of rare animals over the years.  

The white lions and white tigers were the result of a preservation program that began in the 1980s.  

The Siegfried & Roy show incorporated animal antics and magic tricks, featuring 20 white tigers and lions, the number varying depending on the night. 

The show also had other exotic animals, including an elephant.

The two men met on a cruise ship in 1957. Fischbacher performed the magic tricks, while Horn became his assistant, eventually suggesting using a cheetah in the act after he smuggled his pet cheetah Chico on board the ship.

Fischbacher pictured in 2013.His publicist Dave Kirvin confirmed his death in a statement, saying the funeral service will be private 'with plans for a public memorial in the future'

His death comes just eight months after his long-time show business partner Roy Horn died in May of complications from COVID-19 at a Las Vegas hospital. The duo in 2005

Fischbacher at the keg-tapping celebration at the kickoff of Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas' 8th Annual Oktoberfest in 2011

Las Vegas superstar illusionists Siegfried (right) and Roy (left) ) at their Mirage Hotel apartment, prior to Horn's nearly fatal encounter with a white tiger on stage during one of their performances

They honed their animal-magic show in small clubs in Germany and Switzerland in the mid-1960s. 

Their big break then came in a Monte Carlo casino when an agent in the audience invited them to Las Vegas.  

The pair made their debut at the Tropicana hotel-casino in the late 1960s.

The illusionists became increasingly popular in the 1970s, receiving their first star billing in 1978 as headliners of the Stardust´s 'Lido de Paris.' 

Their show 'Beyond Belief' opened in 1981 at the Frontier and played to thousands over seven years. 

They signed a lifetime contract with the Mirage in 2001. At the time, it was estimated they had performed 5,000 shows at the casino for 10 million fans since 1990 and had grossed more than $1 billion. 

The duo with tiger cubs in Las Vegas in 2008. The Siegfried & Roy show incorporated animal antics and magic tricks

Horn pictured above performing with a white tiger during the duo's 15,000th live show in 1996

Horn was left with partial paralysis on the left side of his body and was confined to a wheelchair most of the time. The pair are pictured here in October 2002

Horn in a wheelchair in 2018 with Siegfried at his side attending the unveiling of a plaque in their honor at the Cleveland Clinic for Brain Health in Las Vegas

That comes on top of thousands of shows at other venues in earlier years. 

One spectacular developed for the Mirage opened with a flashy 'Star Wars' scenario and Horn and Fischbacher arriving in their own mini space capsules. 

Another segment had Horn sitting atop a 30-foot pyramid that was 'destroyed' by an explosion and fire, leaving him levitated high above the stage. 

When Horn and Fischbacher became US citizens in 1988, an elated Horn said: 'Being an American means all the things we believe in.'  

Horn was left partially paralyzed and using a wheelchair after being attacked by a 400-pound white Bengal tiger named Montecore during one of their performances at The Mirage hotel-casino in Las Vegas in 2003.

He suffered severe neck injuries, lost a lot of blood and later suffered a stroke.   

After the attack, the duo consistently claimed the cat had latched onto Horn as a way to protect the entertainer, after he had suffered a stroke and toppled over.  

Horn insisted the cat 'saved his life' by attempting to drag him to safety after he fainted and begged for the cat not to be put down. 

The tiger later died of natural causes at age 17 in 2014.

An investigation by the US Department of Agriculture explored a variety of theories but was unable to reach a conclusion on what caused the tiger to attack.

The illusionists receiving the second annual Liberace Legend Award at a gala benefit in Las Vegas in 1995

The bronze busts of Siegfried & Horn outside The Mirage Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. A makeshift memorial for Horn is seen in front of it following his death in May

The duo met on a cruise ship before teaming up and working together on the iconic show 

In its final report, the USDA also said the show´s producers had failed to protect the audience because there was no barrier separating the exotic animals from the crowd.  

Horn underwent lengthy rehabilitation, but the attack ended the long-running Las Vegas Strip production. 

In October 2006 the duo were inducted into the Las Vegas Walk of Stars.  

The duo then returned to the stage in February 2009 for what was billed as their one and only comeback performance, to raise funds for the new Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. 

The brief performance included the tiger Montecore. A year later Siegfried & Roy formally retired from showbusiness.

In 2019, the two appeared together as surprise guests at the Vegas's Keep Memory Alive's 23rd annual Power of Love gala.  

The pair were said to be working on a biopic to be released in the form of a multi-part docuseries in 2021.  

Horn died at Mountain View Hospital in Las Vegas in May around a week after testing positive for coronavirus.  

Siegfried paid tribute to his 'best friend' in a statement at the time. 

'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. 

'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.'    

Siegfried Fischbacher (left) and Roy Horn (right) pictured in 2017 at a benefit for the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Nevada

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