Roy Horn was generous. He had class. Las Vegas’ king of the cats had pride, too. In his public appearances, he dressed in a way befitting a legend.
Over the years, I grew to appreciate Horn’s panache, and his sense of humor. Last week, Joe Schoenmann of KNPR’s “State of Nevada” asked me to describe the Vegas headliner, who died May 9 of COVID-19 complications. I started with that description of his pride in his legacy, and ever-apparent superstar qualities.
Then it hit me that I’d actually been holding a keepsake for years, an enduring testament to those traits. The time seems right to tell this story, as Gov. Steve Sisolak has ordered all flags throughout the state to fly half-staff Monday to honor Horn’s life and career.
In October 2015, Siegfried & Roy debuted a quartet of 6-week-old tiger cubs at their Secret Garden at The Mirage. A formal unveiling was arranged, with S&R playing with the little cats and feeding them from a baby bottle.
The duo was presented a proclamation from Rep. Dina Titus making Oct. 15, 2015, SARMOTI Cubs Day. SARMOTI, for the uninitiated, stands for Siegfried & Roy Masters of the Impossible. I remember it was a beautiful day to be at the Secret Garden.
Roy arrived in style, as always. He donned a dark jacket and shades, light-blue button-down shirt and loose-fitting white tie bearing the SARMOTI and tiger logo.
I casually said to him, “Hey, nice tie.”
Then I waited for our interview. I spent a lot of time in my life waiting on Siegfried & Roy, but they always made our time together count.
I walked over to the guys at the end of the event, as they were feeding one of the cubs. My buddy and freelance photog Tom Donoghue, who shot many of S&R’s events, was at my side. After we finished our chat, I started to back away and Roy pulled the tie off his neck.
“Here, have this,” he said. “Wear it to a party.”
I did not know what to say, other than, “Roy, I did not mean to ask for your tie!” But he insisted that I have this piece of history. It would not be a stretch to say he probably expected that one day I’d write of that moment.
I still have the SARMOTI tie, of course. I’ve not worn it, other than to snap a few selfies over the weekend. The neckpiece still has the residue of Roy’s stage makeup, and that famed SARMOTI logo. If and when we share a public celebration of Roy Horn’s life and career, you’ll see it there.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats! podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.