The beat goes on ... and on ... and as strong as ever for this superstar entertainer who has well surpassed the four-decade mark while improbably transforming herself from an artificial, glossy "flashionplate" singer into a serious, Oscar-worthy, dramatic actress ... and back again! With more ups and downs than the 2008 Dow Jones Industrial Average, Cher managed to rise like a phoenix from the ashes each time she was down and counted out, somehow re-inventing herself with every changing decade and finding herself on top all over again. As a singer Cher is the only performer to have earned "top 10" hit singles in four consecutive decades; as an actress, she and Barbra Streisand are the only two Best Actress Oscar winners to have a #1 hit song on the Billboard charts. At age 62, Cher has yet to decide to get completely off her fabulous roller coaster ride, although she has threatened to on occasion.
The daughter of a truck driver, John Sarkisian, and an Arkansas-born mother, Georgia Holt (the former Jackie Jean Crouch), Cher was born in El Centro, California, on May 20, 1946. She and sister Georganne LaPiere are of English, Cherokee, and French descent from their mother's side, and of Armenian heritage on their father's. The father deserted the family when both were young and they were raised by their mother who later married Gilbert LaPiere, a banker. Cher's mother, who had aspirations of being an actress and model herself, paid for Cher's acting classes despite her daughter having undiagnosed dyslexia, which acutely affected her studies. Frustrated, Cher quit Fresno High School at the age of 16 in search of her dream. At that time, she had a brief relationship with actor Warren Beatty.
Meeting the quite older (by 11 years) Sonny Bono in 1962 changed the 16-year-old's life forever. Bono was working for record producer Phil Spector at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood at the time and managed to persuade Spector to hire Cher as a session singer. As such, she went on to record backup on such Spector classics as "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and "Be My Baby". The couple's relationship eventually shifted from soul mates to lovers and she and Sonny married on October 27, 1964.
At first Cher sang solo with Sonny behind the scenes writing, arranging and producing her songs. The records went nowhere. Sonny then decided they needed to perform as a team so they put out two songs in 1964 under the recording names of Caesar and Cleo ("The Letter" and "Baby Don't Go"). Again, no success. The changing of their names, however, seemed to make a difference and in 1965, they officially took on the music world as Sonny & Cher and earned instant rewards.
The now 19-year-old Cher and 30-year-old Sonny became huge hits following the release of their first album, "Look at Us" (summer, 1965), which contained the hit single "I Got You Babe". With the song catapulting to #1, they decided to re-release their earlier single "Baby Don't Go", and it also raced up the charts to #8. An assembly line of mild hits dotted the airwaves over the next year or two, culminating in the huge smash hit "The Beat Goes On" (#6, 1967). Between 1965 and 1972 Sonny & Cher charted a total of six "Top 10" hits.
The kooky couple became icons of the late '60s "flower power" scene, wearing garish garb and outlandish hairdos and makeup. However, they found a way to make it trendy and were embraced around the world. TV musical variety and teen pop showcases relished their contrasting styles -- the short, excitable, mustachioed, nasal-toned simpleton and the taller, exotic, unflappable fashion maven. They found a successful formula with their repartee, which became a central factor in their live concert shows, even more than their singing. With all this going on, Sonny still endeavored to promote Cher as a solo success. Other than such hits with "All I Really Want to Do" (#16) and "Bang, Bang" (#2), she struggled to find a separate identity. Sonny even arranged film projects for her but Good Times (1967), an offbeat fantasy starring the couple and directed by future powerhouse William Friedkin, and Cher's serious solo effort Chastity (1969) both flickered out and died a quick death.
By the end of the 1960s, Sonny & Cher's career had stumbled as they witnessed the American pop culture experience a drastic evolutionary change. The couple maintained their stage act and all the while Sonny continued to polish it up in a shrewd gamble for TV acceptance. While Sonny on stage played the ineffectual object of Cher's stinging barbs on stage, he was actually the highly motivated mastermind off stage and, amazingly enough, his foresight and chutzpah really paid off. Although the couple had lost favor with the new 70s generation, Sonny encouraged TV talent scouts to catch their live act.
The network powers-that-be saw potential in the duo as they made a number of guest TV appearances in specials and on variety and talk shows and in what was essentially "auditioning" for their own TV vehicle. "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour" (1971) was given the green light as a summer replacement series and was an instant sensation when it earned its own time spot that fall season. The show received numerous Emmy Award nominations during its run and the couple became stars all over again. Their lively, off-the-wall comedy sketch routines, her outré Bob Mackie fashions and their harmless, edgy banter were the highlights of the hour-long program. Audiences took strongly to the couple who appeared to have a deep-down sturdy relationship. Their daughter Chaz Bono occasionally added to the couple's loving glow on the show. Cher's TV success also generated renewed interest in her as a solo recording artist and she came up with three #1 hits during this time ("Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves," "Half-Breed" and "Dark Lady").
Behind the scenes, though, it was a different story. A now-confident Cher yearned to be free of husband Sonny's Svengali-like control over her life and career. The marriage split at the seams in 1974 and they publicly announced their separation. The show, which had earned Cher a Golden Globe Award, took a fast tumble as the separation and divorce grew more acrimonious. Eventually they both tried to launch their own solo variety shows, but both failed to even come close to their success as a duo. Audiences weren't interested in Cher without Sonny, and vice versa.
In late June of 1975, only three days after the couple's divorce, Cher married rock musician Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band. That marriage imploded rather quickly amid reports of out-of-control drug use on his part. They were divorced by 1977 with only one bright outcome -- son Elijah Allman.
In 1976 Sonny and Cher attempted to "make up" again, this time to the tune of a second "The Sonny and Cher Show" (1976). Audiences, however, did not accept the "friendly" divorced couple after so much tabloid nastiness. After the initial curiosity factor wore off, the show was canceled amid poor ratings. Moreover, the musical variety show format was on its way out as well. Once again, another decade was looking to end badly for Cher.
Cher found a mild success with the "top 10" disco hit "Take Me Home" in 1979, but not much else. Not one to be counted out, however, the ever resourceful singer decided to lay back and focus on acting instead. At age 36, Cher made her Broadway debut in 1982 in what was essentially her first live acting role with "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean". Centering around a reunion of girlfriends from an old James Dean fan club, her performance was critically lauded. This earned her the right to transfer her stage triumph to film alongside Karen Black and Sandy Dennis. Cher earned critical raves for Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982), her first film role since 1969.
With film #2 came a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win for her portrayal of a lesbian toiling in a nuclear parts factory in Silkwood (1983), starring Meryl Streep and Kurt Russell. This in turn was followed by her star turn in Mask (1985) as the blunt, footloose mother of a son afflicted with a rare disease (played beautifully by Eric Stoltz). Once again Cher received high praise and copped a win from the Cannes Film Festival for her poignant performance.
Fully accepted by this time as an actress of high-caliber, she integrated well into the Hollywood community. Proving that she could hold up a film outright, she was handed three hit vehicles to star in: The Witches of Eastwick (1987), Suspect (1987), and Moonstruck (1987), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Along with all this newfound Hollywood celebrity came interest in her as a singer and recording artist again. "If I Could Turn Back Time (#3) and the Peter Cetera duet "After All" (#6) placed her back on the Billboard charts.
During the 1990s Cher continued to veer back and forth among films, TV specials and expensively mounted concerts. In January of 1998, tragedy struck when Cher's ex-husband Sonny Bono, who had forsaken an entertainment career for California politics and became a popular Republican congressman in the process, was killed in a freak skiing accident. That same year the duo received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for their contribution to television. In the meantime an astounding career adrenalin rush came in the form of a monstrous, disco-flavored hit single ("Believe"). The song became a #1 hit and the same-titled album the biggest hit of her career. "Believe" reached #1 in 23 different countries.
Having little to prove anymore to anyone, Cher decided to embark on a "Farewell Tour" in the early part of the millennium and, after much stretching, her show finally closed in 2005 in Los Angeles. It didn't take long, however, for Cher to return from this self-imposed exile. In 2008, she finalized a deal with Las Vegas' Caesars Palace for the next three years to play the Colosseum. Never say never. Cher returned to films, co-starring opposite Christina Aguilera in Burlesque (2010/I).
In other facets of her life, Cher has been involved with many humanitarian groups and charity efforts over the years, particularly her work as National Chairperson and Honorary Spokesperson of the Children's Craniofacial Association, which was inspired by her work in Mask (1985).
|Gregg Allman||(30 June 1975 - 16 January 1979) (divorced) 1 child|
|Sonny Bono||(27 October 1964 - 26 June 1975) (divorced) 1 child|
Jet black hair and brown eyes
Deep contralto vocals
Diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 30.
Offered the part of Thelma in Thelma & Louise (1991).
Her father was Armenian, her mother was reputedly part Cherokee, since one of Cher's great-great-grandparents is said to be Cherokee, but none of her currently-known ancestors are described as anything other than White.
Legally changed her name from "Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPierre Bono" to simply "Cher.".
Beat out Céline Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" for the best selling single of 1998 with "Believe."
Her favourite makeup artist, Kevyn Aucoin, died in 2002 of a brain tumor.
Mostly lived in London, UK, in the late 1990s and early 2000s. She now lives in Malibu.
Holds the record for the the longest gap between #1 hits ("Dark Lady" 1974, "Believe" 1999).
Holds the record for oldest female artist with a #1 hit ("Believe").
Son, Elijah Allman, fronts the band Deadsy.
Is tying with Mako as the Oscar-nominated actor throughout history with the shortest name. Technically wins, as her name is only one syllable and is her actual legal name.
Suffers from fear of flying.
Cher's very first recording was novelty record "I Love You Ringo," under the name of Bonnie Jo Mason in 1963.
Her parents married and divorced 3 times.
She won a Grammy in 2000 for the song "Believe" and an Emmy in 2003 for a special on her farewell concert tour.
Spoke the eulogy at ex-husband Sonny Bono's funeral.
Ranked #43 on VH1's "100 Greatest Women of Rock N Roll."
Wore braces as an adult.
Her 1999 hit single "Believe" was ranked #60 on VH1's 100 Greatest Dance Songs.
A 2002 Rolling Stone article estimated her wealth at over $600 million. Since then she has embarked on a hugely successful farewell tour that is still going and released a greatest hits CD that has spent weeks in the the Billboard Top 10.
Is a big Katharine Hepburn fan.
Although her music video "If I Could Turn Back Time" is often cited as the first video to be banned by MTV, this is not true. The Rolling Stones ("Neighbors"), Ramones ("Psychotherapy") and Laura Branigan all had videos banned several years beforehand.
Is the only certified female performer in music history to have had a U.S #1 single in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
She and Barbra Streisand are the only two female performers in the U.S. to have had a #1 hit and won an Oscar.
Has appeared solo on the cover of People magazine a near record 13 times.
In addition to her Oscar and Emmy wins, Cher won a 2000 Grammy for the song "Believe" as Best Dance Recording.
US-born Cher is the most famous Hollywood personality of Armenian ethnicity. Acclaimed USSR-born filmmaker Sergei Parajanov is the most famous non-Hollywood Armenian cinema personality.
She was the subject of an episode of "The X-Files" (1993) called "The Post-Modern Prometheus" (5X06; first aired November 3, 1997). This episode concerned a deformed man who adored Cher because of her role in Mask (1985), in which her character cared for her deformed son. Several Cher songs appeared on the soundtrack of this episode, including "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves" and "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore". At the end of the episode, Mulder and Scully take the Cher fan to a Cher concert, where they hear her sing her cover of "Walkin' in Memphis". Cher, an "X-Files" fan, was asked to play herself in this scene but declined the producers' offer. However, she revealed on The X-Files Movie Special (1998) (TV) that once the episode aired, she regretted not having appeared in it.
Was called to be offered the role in The Witches of Eastwick (1987) on the morning of her 40th birthday.
She has had rhinoplasty and other cosmetic surgeries.
From 2002-2005, she has had an immense success with her "Living Proof Farewell Tour", spanning the globe, making her the world's top diva. She also holds the record for longest-running tour and most money grossed than any female artist in history.
Is one of only six actors/actresses to have both a number one single and an Oscar for acting. The others are Frank Sinatra (1954), Barbra Streisand (1968), Judy Garland (Honorary Oscar) (1940), Jamie Foxx (2005), and Bing Crosby (1945).
All of her Emmy nominations have been for variety series or music programs with her name in the title.
Ranked #26 on VH1's 100 Sexiest Artists.
Good friends with Meryl Streep.
Auditioned for the role of Bonnie Parker in Bonnie and Clyde (1967).
She and Sonny Bono made a film for Columbia Pictures, Good Times (1967), but it was such a flop that Columbia immediately sold rights to their intended follow-up film, Speedway (1968) to MGM as a vehicle for Elvis Presley.
Born at 7:25 AM (PST).
In her 1974 divorce from 'Sonny Bono (I)' (q), he was ordered to pay her $25,000 per month for 6 months, $1,500 per month child support and ordered to pay $41,000 for her attorney's fees. Their liquid assets were otherwise split 50/50. She received their Bel Air mansion, Bono received an Aspen condo, Palm Springs house and another Los Angeles dwelling.
Birth Card is the Queen of Clubs.
Daughter born Chastity Bono underwent gender reassignment surgery to become a man in 2009. He changed his name legally to Chaz Salvatore Bono in April 2010 and is billed as Chaz Bono.
The singer's video "If I Could Turn Back Time" (1989) (by Diane Warren) was filmed aboard the (now decommissioned) USS Missouri (BB-63) ("Mighty Mo" or "Big Mo") in Long Beach (CA) and featured (in cameos) Cher's son Elijah Allman and (his father/her ex) Gregg Allman as backing guitarists. Directed by Marty Callner.
Prior to giving birth to her daughter Chaz Bono, she suffered 4 miscarriages.
I don't like my voice that much. I think I'm a much better actress than singer. Singing is like going to a party at someone else's house. Acting is like having the party at your own house. When you go to someone else's house for a party, it's not your responsibility at all, but when you have the party at your own house, there's a lot of responsibility. Everyone has to have a good time. So for me, acting is deeper.
In this business you have to be tough, and if someone pushes me really far I can certainly be impossible. I've always said, "If you're nice they walk over you and if you stand up for yourself they call you a bitch."
I'm not a role model, nor have I ever tried to be a role model. The only thing about me as a role model is I've managed to stay here and be working and survive. For 40 years.
I'm like a bumper car. When I did an infomercial I was fodder for every TV comedy show. I couldn't get a job. People said I was a huge joke. I've been a joke so many times. I've been on my way out since I started, but I'm strong-willed. My mother is so much tougher than I am and my grandmother is so much tougher than my mother.
I haven't a clue why I've lasted so long. There's no reason. There are many people more talented than me. I think it's luck.
[People magazine, 9/1/85] I was a shy ugly kid who led a big fantasy life. I thought I was an angel sent from heaven, to cure polio. When Dr. Salk [Jonas Salk] did that I was really pissed off.
The trouble with some women, they get all excited about nothing - and then they marry him.
The only grounds for divorce in California are marriage.
On friendship: I can trust my friends...these people force me to examine myself, encourage me to grow.
On truth: Honesty makes me feel powerful in a difficult world.
On spirit: Women, unlike most men, are able to accept mystery, accept whatever comes to them -- even if it's not logical.
[on Meryl Streep] She's an acting machine in the same sense that a shark is a killing machine. That's what she was born to be.
I think men are fun and nice, but I don't think they're necessary to live. Chastity has a nice father, I think Sonny is a decent father. Elijah's father is absolutely useless. He's not worthwhile at all. He hasn't called Elijah in two years.
|Mask (1985)||$500,000 + 5% gross points|
|The Witches of Eastwick (1987)||$1,000,000|
(June 2009) Performing in Las Vegas, Nevada
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