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Illusionists say The Mirage inspired them for 13 years

Siegfried and Roy are synonymous with The Mirage.

The illusionists gave The Mirage an image when they agreed to a multiyear, $50 million contract two years before the property opened.

Consequently, without The Mirage and their 13 years performing in the hotel’s specially built, 1,500-seat theater, the pair might not have become international entertainment sensations.

"The Mirage inspired us. This was a partnership," Siegfried Fischbacher said during an interview at The Jungle Palace near Vegas Drive, which still houses some of their white tigers.

Roy Horn, who suffered severe injuries in a 2003 onstage incident that ended their career, also participated in the interview.

Siegfried and Roy were headliners in the small showroom at the Frontier when Wynn showed up at their house one day with the idea of bringing the pair over to his developing, yet-to-be-named $620 million hotel-casino.

"Steve wanted to learn everything about us," Roy said. "And we wanted to learn about The Mirage."

The contract had a noncompete clause, meaning Siegfried and Roy couldn’t appear on the Strip until The Mirage showroom opened.

The pair took their show, their white tigers, lions, horses and an elephant to Japan, where they spent a year performing in front of sold-out auditoriums. When they returned to the United States, Siegfried and Roy performed to record-breaking audiences at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

The touring gave Siegfried and Roy ideas of what they wanted to do with their act at The Mirage.

"I was in a panic," Siegfried recalled. "We had signed this contract that nobody had ever signed before. I knew we had to bring something special to The Mirage."

The show had been scheduled to open in December 1989, but challenges with the production delayed the opening until February 1990.

The initial meeting between Wynn and the entertainers lasted several hours. Sitting at their dining room table as the tigers played in the backyard gave Siegfried several ideas, one of which was to create the white tiger habitat at The Mirage’s south entrance.

"It was a living marquee for The Mirage," Siegfried said.

The habitat was modeled after a similar habitat in the backyard of their home off Vegas Drive. It was replaced by the BLT Burger restaurant last year, but not before it became a must-see attraction for anyone who visited the hotel.

Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden at The Mirage opened in 1996. It was created for both entertainment and practicality. The attraction allowed fans an up-close look at the animals, but it also ended the daily transport of the animals to and from The Mirage for performances.

Siegfried and Roy are retired, but the pair still spend several days a week at the Secret Garden visiting with their animals.

"It’s therapy for Roy," Siegfried said.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz @reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871.

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