Real estate tycoon Steve Wynn soon took notice of the pair. "The wonderful thing about Siegfried and Roy's show is that you didn't have to be over 21 to watch it," Wynn said. "It wasn't salacious or erotic. It was big and sensual, but you can take anybody to it and, more importantly, since 15 percent of this town was foreign visitors who don't necessarily speak English, we got all of the international trade."
Siegfried and Roy were so popular that Wynn decided to build an entire casino resort around them and their animals.
Putting on the Siegfried and Roy show took 250 cast and crew members and 75 tons of scenery. Night after night, for more than 5,000 performances, the pair dazzled sell-out crowds.
Through it all, Fischbacher and Horn lived as an unconventional family in their palatial home called the Jungle Palace, a place they shared with 63 tigers, 16 lions and a slew of other exotic animals. They treated all the creatures like their children. Fischbacher said she has always marveled at Horn's unusual connection with animals.
"It was unbelievable for me, and I never understood it," Fischbacher said. "And, sometimes, I got a little jealous because, how come I can't be that way?"
Horn's remarkable connection with wild animals has always seemed magical. But Horn was also quick to remind people that, in this relationship, joy is coupled with danger.
"You can't take nothing for granted, even if you think you know it all," he said.
Watching him on stage, night after night, it was easy to think of the danger as just another illusion.
But during a regular Friday night performance in October 2003, something terrible happened. One of Horn's beloved tigers, Montecore, broke from the regular act. Eyewitnesses who were in the audience that night say it appeared as if Montecore reached up, bit Horn on the neck, and dragged him offstage. Those close to Fischbacher and Horn, and the men themselves, said Horn fell and Montecore was simply helping his master.
Wynn said, "It's clear that Montecore did not attack Horn. ... He leaned over and picked him up the way you would pick up a tiger cub and made an exit on stage left the way they make the exit every night."
One thing was clear to everyone that night: Horn was in critical condition. He was rushed to University Medical Center where Dr. Jay Coates was the first surgeon to treat him.
"Roy came in and flat-lined, died on the table," he said.
Montecore had left two gaping puncture wounds on the back of Horn's neck that punctured an artery. Doctors spent nearly three hours in the operating room. The massive blood loss caused Horn to have a stroke.
After hours of surgery, doctors gave Fischbacher, Horn's longtime friend and partner, a grim prognosis. They told him Horn would never walk or talk again. Fischbacher refused to believe the doctor's words. "For some reason ... I always thought ... somehow we're going to pull it through."
Fischbacher was right. Despite his devastating injuries (he has partial paralysis on the left side of his body) Horn can walk and talk. The pair live at a 100-acre compound in Las Vegas known as Little Bavaria.