People like big cats. There’s something about tigers, lions, panthers, jaguars and other large and potentially ferocious felines that people find undeniably majestic.
One need only recall things like the extraordinary longevity of the Broadway musical “Cats” or the smash-hit Netflix documentary “Tiger King” for proof of that.
But there are two other names that are inescapably tied in the public’s imagination with big cats: Siegfried and Roy. The two performers have been lifelong partners, first meeting abroad the luxury cruise line TS Bremen way back in 1957 and performing their famous act together with lions and tigers from 1990 until 2003.
But one question had always followed the couple: Were they more than business partners? Were they ever romantically involved?
Now, after many years and after both Siegfried and Roy have passed away, we now have the answer to these rumors.
Were Siegfried and Roy Ever Together?
The two men never publicly identified as gay, but many strongly suspected that they were. In a 2008 article called Escape to Queer Mountain: Siegfried and Roy, Queer Adolescence the and Cultural Imaginary, it was revealed that Siegfried and Roy — whose full names are Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn — had been romantically involved in the past, though they had never married.
In a 1999 Vanity Fair interview, Roy only said, “We are married to our profession.”
On October 3, 2003, something happened which would sadly end the storied and decades-long career of the two performers, but which also had the effect of bringing them closer together: A tiger named Montecore attacked Roy and lunged at his throat.
Show aides, eventually pried the tiger away and Roy survived the attack, but he was severely injured. Speaking for long periods of time became extremely difficult for him. Even walking short distances became tough. For this reason, Siegfried became Roy’s primary caretaker.
As Siegfried said in a 2003 interview with Larry King, “It was 44 years we have been together… It is a relationship second to none.”
On May 8, 2020, Roy sadly passed away due to complications from COVID-19. On January 13, 2021, Siegfried himself passed away from pancreatic cancer. They were 75 and 81, respectively.
For their mesmerizing showmanship and for the fact that they were gay icons at a time when homosexuality was not as accepted as it is today, Siegfried and Roy remain legends.