Siegfried and Roy
"The Biggest Magic Show in Las Vegas"

This magical duo took Houdini's favorite trick - The Trunk Escape - and added circus animals. The thrilling illusion that resulted has been one of their own favourites for over 25 years. It built their first success and helped them become the stars of Las Vegas, Nevada, a city known for big stage productions.

Siegfried and Roy perform The Trunk Escape with great speed. Siegfried shackles Roy's wrists, ties him in a cloth sack, locks him in the trunk, and then ropes and ties it. Siegfried stands on top of the trunk and lifts a curtain over himself. Instantly the curtain is dropped, and Roy is seen standing on the trunk instead. Roy jumps down, removes the locks and ropes from the trunk, unties the cloth sack, and Siegfried jumps out. But the climax is yet to come.

An animal cage on high metal legs, visible throughout the performance, is rolled above the locked trunk. Roy gets into the cage and Siegfried covers it with a cloth. Suddenly he rips the cloth away, and a roaring lion appears behind the bars of the cage where Roy was! There are screams from the trunk. Siegfried pulls it forward, unlocks it, and a second jungle beast, a cheetah, jumps out, followed by the smiling Roy.

Siegfried Fischbacher was a skilled magician in his teens when he quit his family's hotel business in Germany. He took a job entertaining passengers aboard the luxury liner Bremen.

Roy Horn was a steward aboard the Bremen and operated  spotlights for Siegfried's shows. One of Roy's uncles was a zoo director, and Roy had a pet cheetah aboard the ship. He urged Siegfried to use the cheetah in the magic act. "I was a magician who pulled a rabbit out of a hat," Siegfried recalls. "What was I supposed to do with a large wild animal?"

Together they worked out a trick to produce the big spotted cat. Its sudden appearance delighted passengers. The two young men immediately knew they had something good in the combination of magic and animals. But it was a long struggle to create an act that slowly won them bookings in the better European nightclubs.

Their first big break came when they were invited to perform for Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco. At the end of the trick, the cheetah jumped out and headed into the audience, trotting right through to where the royal family sat.

When they went to Las Vegas the first thing Siegfried and Roy were told was that "a magic act like theirs would never succeed in Vegas!" How wrong that was!

Today, at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, the spectacular Siegfried and Roy show is staged twice nightly in a 1,500-seat theater specially built for the act at a cost of $25 million. The show has 60 dancers, nonstop original and classic illusions, and what Siegfried calls "a whole Noah's ark of animals, everything but a rabbit."

Siegfried & Roy's spectacular show features lions, leopards, panthers, cheetahs, an elephant that vanishes and reappears, and their famous rare white tigers.

Many of Siegfried and Roy's illusions involve people floating through the air. "Every child dreams of being able to fly," Siegfried says, "and in our show we prove again and again it can be done." One of the floating illusions is the shows climax. A white tiger, produced from a large flaming silver ball, jumps up on the ball. Then Roy leaps astride the tiger. They ride off together atop the ball as it spins up, up and away into space, at Siegfried's magical command.

"When you do something like vanish a coin, that's manipulation of the  hands," Siegfried says. "But an illusion is manipulation of the mind. First you have a fantasy, sort of a mirage in your mind, and then you work to make it a reality. In magic, nothing is impossible!"