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Gov. Sisolak orders flags at half-staff for Roy Horn

Updated May 16, 2020 - 5:43 pm

The Las Vegas Strip would typically dim its lights to honor the passing of an entertainment legend as large as Roy Horn. Given that Strip resorts are currently dark, Gov. Steve Sisolak is ordering all flags statewide to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Monday.

Horn died May 8 in Las Vegas from complications of COVID-19. He was 75.

“Roy had an uncanny ability to entertain and mesmerize audiences,” Sisolak said in a statement. “His world-famous act brought joy to Nevadans and visitors alike. For both his contribution in helping elevate Las Vegas as the entertainment capital of the world, and for his vast work in wildlife conservation, we are proud to honor him.”

On Friday, Horn’s longtime entertainment partner Siegfried Fischbacher expressed his gratitude in a statement.

“On behalf of Roy, I want to thank Governor Sisolak for the respectful statewide honoring of his memory. The city of Las Vegas, the state of Nevada and America graciously welcomed us and gave Roy and I the opportunity to live our dreams,” Fischbacher said. “I know Roy will be looking down proudly on the flags flying across the state he loved so much. We are tremendously and gratefully humbled by the outpouring of love and warm wishes from the people of Las Vegas and all of Nevada.”

Lynette Chappell, the duo’s stunning Evil Queen onstage and also confidant and personal assistant, says she has been devastated by the loss.

“Roy’s passing is a very personal heartbreak for me, of course,” Chappell said in a statement. “But I have been overwhelmed and comforted by the heartfelt outpouring from the hundreds of former cast, crew and animal caretakers who have reached out to share what Roy meant to them.

“Roy referred to all of them as our great SARMOTI family, and a family they truly are.”

SARMOTI is the duo’s acronym, meaning Siegfried And Roy Masters Of The Impossible.

The flag tribute was the vision of Larry Ruvo, founder of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Ruvo and the entertainment duo had been friends for decades, and S&R staged their “final bow” performance at the center’s Keep Memory Alive Power of Love gala at Bellagio on Feb. 28, 2009. In an expert performance, the duo made a big cat, later billed as Mantecore, vanish.

Siegfried & Roy arrived in Las Vegas in 1967. The duo grew from a specialty act in “Folies Bergere” at the Tropicana to a lavish, sold-out production at The Mirage from 1990 until Horn was forced from the stage after being injured by the big cat Mantecore (then known as Montecore) in October 2003.

Horn was honored with a marquee tribute “takeover” on all MGM Resorts International properties the night of his death.

Sisolak’s order recites the entertainment team’s groundbreaking production, ambassadorship of the city and dedication to wildlife and endangered species. Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage, home to several white tigers, white lions and leopards, has remained a popular attraction.

Also on Thursday, it was announced work on the duo’s authorized biopic is moving forward. Fischbacher, along with Nico Hofmann and Sebastian Werniger of UFA Fiction, have partnered with director and writer Michael Bully Herbig (the German voice of Woody in “Toy Story 3” and “Toy Story 4”) on the script.

The script for the project, two years in the making, is close to complete, with Fischbacher collaborating on the details. Preproduction commences soon after that work is finished. It will be presented as a feature film in theaters and a miniseries for TV. No title has been announced.

“Roy and I worked closely with Nico and Bully to tell the story of our life together, on and off stage,” Siegfried said. “This will be our personal and emotional journey that could only be told as we looked back over how the connection between us built our career and led to our achievements.

“Now that Roy is gone, this movie will be the ultimate tribute to the truly special person Roy was not just to me but to our audiences and fans.”

Fischbacher has been quoted in German media that his longtime partner’s ashes have been placed in an urn at the duo’s Little Bavaria fortress in Las Vegas. Fischbacher pledged to remain in Las Vegas, in the estate Roy envisioned for the duo and their vast family of exotic animals.

“I feel peace because Roy fell asleep in peace,” Fischbacher said. “And he’s still with me no matter where I turn.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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