She has won an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, three Golden Globes and a Cannes Film Festival Award among others for her work in film, music and television. She is the only person in history to have received all of these awards. As a singer Cher is the only performer to have earned "top 10" hit singles in four consecutive decades.
Cher’s father deserted her family when Cher was young. Cher's mother, who had aspirations of being an actress and model herself, paid for Cher to take acting classes. However, Cher had undiagnosed dyslexia & quit high school at the age of 16 in search of her dream.
Meeting the quite older (by 11 years) Sonny Bono in 1962 changed the 16-year-old's life forever. They became friends & Sonny began helping Cher with her career. Through Sonny, Cher started as a session singer in 1963, and sang backup on several of Spector’s classic recordings, including The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" and The Ronettes’ "Be My Baby", among others. Sonny & Cher married in 1964 and they started an act together.
They first recorded under the names of Caesar and Cleo with no success. 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". The song catapulting to #1. Between 1965 and 1972 Sonny & Cher charted a total of six "Top 10" hits.
They 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 simp and the taller, exotic, unflappable fashionista. 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" and "Bang, Bang", she struggled to find a separate identity.
During their stage act, Sonny on stage played the ineffectual object of Cher's stinging barbs on stage, in fact he was actually the highly motivated mastermind off stage. Due to his and his foresight and chutzpah, “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” began on tv. Their child, Chaz Bono was born during this period & often appeared on the show. It was also during this time that Cher’s solo recording career took flight with three #1 hits ("Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves," "Half-Breed" and "Dark Lady"). 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. Their show went downhill quickly.
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.
After an unsuccessful second attempt at the “Sonny & Cher Show” and a somewhat successful Top 10 disco hit, the ever resourceful singer decided to lay back and focus on acting instead. At age 36, Cher made her Broadway debut in 1992 in what was essentially her first live acting role with "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean". Her performance was critically lauded. She then appeared in the film version & earned critical raves in 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). 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 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 adrenaline 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.
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. She created the Cher Foundation and most recently Cher stepped in to prevent a Kenyan school from being forced to close its doors.
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