Today is the birthday of Siegfried Fischbacher (b. 1939). Together with his partner Roy Horn (b. 1944) he was half of the prototypical large scale Las Vegas stage act Siegfried and Roy starting in the early 1970s. Siegfried is a magician; Horn worked with big cats, usually white lions and tigers.
Even the most politically correct of people used to snigger about Siegfried and Roy — not because they were gay, but because they were gay German lion tamers with a sense of style that ranked with Liberace’s for grandmotherly tackiness. The jokes stopped coming when Roy got his head bitten by one of the big cats in 2003 during a live performance. Most people who aren’t monsters have been rooting for him ever since. Roy spent several years attempting to recover; the team officially retired in 2010.
Here’s the sort of thing they used to do.
To find out about the history of show business, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc