Siegfried & Roy: 'The Magic Returns'

Legendary Las Vegas illusionists reunite for one night and one cause.

ByABC News
February 4, 2009, 7:07 PM

Feb. 6, 2009 — -- Siegfried & Roy remade Las Vegas entertainment, white tigers in tow -- but the legendary illusionists' run ended on Oct. 3, 2003, when a tiger carried Roy Horn offstage by his neck.

Doctors thought he would never walk again, much less perform onstage. But on March 6, ABC News will show what happens when Siegfried & Roy decide to try for one final stage performance.

Today, ABC News announced "Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Returns," a special edition of "20/20" airing March 6 and anchored by Elizabeth Vargas.

It's been more than five years since Montecore, a 7-year-old male white tiger, bit into Roy's neck.

The illusionist "flatlined" twice before beginning a recovery of monumental proportions. He has had to learn to walk again, talk again -- and to learn a new relationship with the animals to which he remains dedicated.

In the upcoming ABC News special, Vargas sees how Horn now interacts with his animals.

Part of Horn's daily therapy, he says, is working with animals at his new home, the sprawling new compound outside Las Vegas where Siegfried & Roy have spent most of their time since the attack. Affectionately called "Little Bavaria," the lush estate contains fields and pools where animals like llamas and black swans roam free.

Vargas has access to the illusionists' private soundstage, which warehouses the opulent set pieces used during the duo's record-breaking run at the MGM Mirage hotel in Las Vegas. Those set pieces have been gathering dust until recently, when Siegfried & Roy decided it was time to recreate the magic that made them household names.

Why the comeback now? Their longtime manager, Bernie Yuman, says it's a classic story of triumph over tragedy.

"They're doing this now to show how to take the human spirit to the highest level and overcome adversity," he says.

The one-time only performance is one of the most highly-anticipated reunions to hit "The Strip" in Las Vegas in years, and is the marquee event at the annual Keep Memory Alive Power of Love Gala to benefit the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute in Las Vegas.

The institute, which is opening a new Frank Gehry-designed complex in Las Vegas this year, is dedicated to the study and treatment of debilitating neurological diseases like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease.

"We've made a lot of progress in the last 30 years," says Dr. Zaven Khachaturian, the Institute's chief scientific advisor, "but it's time we make a radical paradigm shift in how we treat patients and families dealing with cognitive disorders and disabilities."

The new headquarters is meant to treat not only the patient suffering from a degenerative brain syndrome, but the families who care for them.

In upcoming decades, health experts expect 10 million American baby-boomers to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease alone.

The group hopes to raise at least $6 million from the event at which Siegfried & Roy will perform.

According to Siegfried Fishbacher, who is already rehearsing the show's illusions with his partner, this will be the last time the duo will ever perform their signature illusions.

"Having lived through Roy's recovery, watching how amazing the human spirit can be, we just want to pass along the kind of help we've received," Fishbacher says. "We'll know we're not onstage just for 'Siegfried & Roy,' but for every patient who the Ruvo Institute can help."

ABC News will air "Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Returns," a special edition of "20/20" on Friday, March 6 at 9 p.m. ET.

For more information about the Keep Memory Alive Power of Love Gala and the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, go to