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German-born illusionists Siegfried & Roy become citizens

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- German-born illusionists Siegfried and Roy, who debuted on the Las Vegas Strip 22 years ago, took the oath of U.S. citizenship Monday before launching a world tour in Japan.

U.S. District Judge Lloyd George administered the oath to Siegfried Fischbacher, Roy Horn, and Lynette Chappell during solemn ceremonies in federal court. Chappell, a longtime associate, is the woman who was sawed in half during the 3,500 performances of the Siegfried and Roy 'Beyond Belief' show which played the Frontier Hotel for seven years.

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The pair, known for making elephants, lions and tigers vanish from a well lighted stage, open a world tour in the Ginza district of Tokyo Nov. 12 and then star at Radio City Music Hall for three weeks beginning in September, 1989.

The entertainers have signed a five-year, $58 million contract withGolden Nugget Inc., to perform 36 weeks a year when the $500 million Golden Nugget destination resort opens on the Las Vegas Strip late next year.

'For a long time I have carried this in my heart and now it is official. We don't just want to take this country for granted, but also to share the responsibility,' Siegfried said after taking the oath of citizenship.'

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'What we really want to do is we want to represent America. We are going on a world tour; we wanted to clean house and when we came back to come back to home base,' said Roy. 'America is a land of opportunities and for Siegfried and myself it all came true.'

The entertainers live in a palatial home in Las Vegas surrounded by posh outdoor swimming pools and compounds which house their animals and serve as a breeding area for their rare white tigers.

'Beyond Belief' producer Kenneth Feld and the touring cast greeted the entertainers on the steps of the federal building Monday with strains of 'Yankee Doodle' and red, white and blue balloons followed by a hot dog and apple pie reception overlooking the Las Vegas Stars baseball diamond.

Siegfried was working as a magician and Roy was a steward on a cruise ship when they first met. They had established their wild animal routine in Europe before debuting on the Las Vegas Strip in 1966 as a supporting act in the 'Folies Bergere' at the Tropicana Hotel.

The two men, who call themselves illusionists, later became a featured act in 'Hallelujah Hollywood' production at the MGM Grand in 1974. Four years later Siegfried and Roy appeared as the first headline stars of 'Lido de Paris' at the Stardust Hotel and in 1981 were booked at the Frontier Hotel where their show 'Beyond Belief' entertained an estimated 3 million people in 3,500 performances until it closed in June of this year.

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