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Cher 1946–

CHER 1946–

(Sonny and Cher)

PERSONAL

Full name, Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPierre; born May 20, 1946, in El Centro, CA; daughter of John Sarkisian (a truck driver) and Georgia Holt (a model and actress; original name, Jackie Jean Crouch); adopted daughter of Gilbert LaPiere (a banker); half–sister of Georganne LaPiere (an actress); married Sonny Bono (a singer, restaurateur, and politician), October 27, 1964 (some sources say 1969; divorced, May 1975 [some sources say February 20, 1974]); married Gregg Allman (a musician), June 1975 (divorced); children: (first marriage) Chastity Bono (an activist); (second marriage) Elijah Blue Allman (a musician). Education: Studied drama with Jeff Corey.

Addresses:

Agent—International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211. Office—Bill Sammeth Organization, P.O. Box 960, Beverly Hills, CA 90213–0960; Reprise Records, 3000 Wilshire Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505–4694. Manager—Lindsay Scott Management, 8899 Beverly Blvd., Ste. 600, Los Angeles, CA 90048. Publicist—Warner Bros. Records, 75 Rockefeller Center, New York, NY 10019.

Career:

Actress, producer, director, and singer. Backup singer for the musical groups the Crystals and the Ronettes; performer and recording artist with Sonny Bono as Caesar and Cleo, then as Sonny and Cher, beginning in 1964; member of the rock band Black Rose, c. 1979–80; nightclub performer in Las Vegas, NV, and Atlantic City, NJ. Head of Isis Productions, an independent film company; founder of Sanctuary, a catalog sales company, 1994; creator of an Internet catalog at Cher.com, 1999. Also appeared in commercials and infomercials.

Awards, Honors:

Grammy Award nomination, best female pop vocal, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 1971, for "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves"; Emmy Award nominations, outstanding single variety or musical program, 1972, and outstanding variety musical series, 1972, 1973, and 1974, and Golden Globe Award, best actress in a television comedy or musical, 1974, all for The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding comedy, variety or music series, 1975, for Cher; Golden Globe Award nomination, best actress in a supporting role, 1983, for Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean; Golden Globe Award, best actress in a supporting role in a motion picture, Academy Award nomination, best supporting actress, 1983, Film Award nomination, best supporting actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1985, for Silk-wood; Palm d'Or, best actress, Cannes International Film Festival, 1985, Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a supporting role, 1986, for Mask; Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year, Hasty Pudding Theatricals, Harvard University, 1985; Academy Award, best actress, Golden Globe Award, best actress in a motion picture comedy or musical, 1987, David di Donatello Award, best foreign actress, Silver Ribbon Award, best actress, Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, 1988, and Film Award nomination, best actress, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1989, all for Moonstruck; Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a supporting role in a series, miniseries, or motion picture, Golden Satellite Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a supporting role, 1997, for If These Walls Could Talk; Vanguard Award, GLAAD Media Awards, 1998; Star on the Walk of Fame (with Sonny Bono), 1998; Fashion Award, 18th Annual American Fashion Awards, 1999; Legend Award, World Music Awards, 1999; platinum and gold record awards, Recording Industry Association of America; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding individual performance, 2000, for Cher: Live in Concert from Las Vegas; Lucy Award (with others), Women in Film Lucy Awards, 2000; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding variety, music or comedy special, 2003, for Cher: The Farewell Tour.

CREDITS

Film Appearances:

Herself, Wild on the Beach (also known as Beach House Party), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1965.

Herself, Good Times (also known as Sonny & Cher in Good Times), Columbia, 1967.

Title role, Chastity, American International Pictures, 1969.

Sissy, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Cinecom International, 1982.

Dolly Pelliker, Silkwood, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1983.

Florence "Rusty" Dennis, Mask (also known as Peter Bogdanovich's "Mask"), Universal, 1985.

Kathleen Riley, Suspect, TriStar, 1987.

Alexandra Medford, The Witches of Eastwick, Warner Bros., 1987.

Loretta Castorini, Moonstruck, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/United Artists, 1987.

Rachel Flax, Mermaids, Orion, 1990.

Herself, The Player, Fine Line, 1992.

Herself, Ready to Wear (also known as Pret–a–Porter), Miramax, 1994.

Margaret O'Donnell, Faithful, New Line Cinema, 1996.

Elsa Morganthal Strauss–Armistan, Tea with Mussolini (also known as Un te con Mussolini), Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 1999.

Mayor of the Sunset Strip, Samuel Goldwyn, 2002.

Television Appearances; Series:

(With Sonny Bono as Sonny and Cher) Host, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, CBS, 1971–74.

Host, Cher, CBS, 1975–76.

(With Sonny Bono as Sonny and Cher) Host, The Sonny and Cher Show, CBS, 1976–77.

Parabens, 1993.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Club Rhino, 1990.

Dr. Beth Thompson, "1996," If These Walls Could Talk, HBO, 1996.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Sonny & Cher: Nitty Gritty Hour, 1970.

Third wife, The First Nine Months Are the Hardest, NBC, 1971.

How to Handle a Woman, NBC, 1972.

The Flip Wilson Special, NBC, 1975.

Host, Cher … Special, ABC, 1978.

Host, Cher and Other Fantasies, NBC, 1979.

Night of 100 Stars, ABC, 1982.

Host, Cher—A Celebration at Caesar's Palace, Showtime, 1983.

The Barbara Walters Special, ABC, 1985, 1988.

Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes All–Star 50th Anniversary, 1986.

(In archive footage) The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years, 1986.

Superstars and Their Moms, ABC, 1987.

Pee–Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special (also known as Christmas at Pee Wee's Playhouse and Pee–Wee Herman's Christmas Special), CBS, 1988.

Comic Relief III, HBO, 1989.

An Evening with Bette, Cher, Goldie, Meryl, Olivia, Lily, and Robin, ABC, 1990.

(Uncredited; in archive footage) Superstar: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol, 1990.

Cher … at the Mirage, CBS, 1991.

Host, Cher's Video Canteen, 1991.

Host, Coca–Cola Pop Music Backstage Pass to Summer, 1991.

Host, MTV's 10th Anniversary Special, MTV, 1991.

Dame Edna's Hollywood, NBC, 1991.

In a New Light, ABC, 1992.

The Grand Opening of Euro Disney, CBS, 1992.

Tina Turner: Going Home, The Disney Channel, 1993.

What Is This Thing Called Love? (also known as The Barbara Walters Special), ABC, 1993.

(In archive footage) Victor Borges Tivoli 150 aar, 1993.

(In archive footage) Rowan & Martin's Laugh–In: 25th Anniversary Reunion, 1993.

The Atlantic Records Story, 1994.

Comic Relief: Behind the Nose, BBC, 1995.

Happy Birthday Elizabeth—A Celebration of Life, ABC, 1997.

(Uncredited) Herself, An Audience with Elton John, ITV, 1997.

AFI's 100 Years … 100 Movies, CBS, 1998 and 1999.

Host, Sonny and Me: Cher Remembers, CBS, 1998.

(In archive footage) A Really Big Show: Ed Sullivan's 50th Anniversary, 1998.

The X–Files Movie Special, Fox, 1998.

(In archive footage; with Sonny Bono) Detroit Rock City, 1999.

Super Bowl XXXIII, ABC, 1999.

Cher: Live in Concert at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (also known as Cher: Live in Concert from Las Vegas), HBO, 1999.

VH1 Divas Live '99, VH1, 1999.

Hollywood Animal Crusaders (documentary), Animal Planet, 1999.

Interviewee, 100 Greatest Dance Songs, VH1, 2000.

Rock to Erase MS, VH1, 2001.

I Love Lucy's 50th Anniversary Special, CBS, 2001.

The Royal Variety Performance 2001, ITV, 2001.

48 edicion de los premios Ondas, 2001.

National Lottery Christmas Cracker (also known as Dale's National Lottery Christmas Cracker), 2001.

Still Cher (documentary), BBC, 2002.

MTV Icon: Aerosmith (documentary), MTV, 2002.

Elvis Lives, NBC, 2002.

Judi Dench: A BAFTA Tribute, BBC, 2002.

American Bandstand's 50th Anniversary Celebration, ABC, 2002.

VH1 Divas Las Vegas, VH1, 2002.

Hollywood Salutes Nicolas Cage: An American Cinematheque Tribute, TNT, 2002.

Inside TV Land: Style and Fashion (documentary), TV Land, 2003.

50 Sexiest Video Moments, VH1, 2003.

Cher: The Farewell Tour, NBC, 2003.

101 Most Shocking Moments in Entertainment, E! Entertainment Television, 2003.

Cher: The E! True Hollywood Story (documentary), E! Entertainment Television, 2003.

Reel Comedy Stuck On You, Comedy Central, 2003.

The Eurovision Song Contest Semi Final, 2004.

ABBA: Our Last Video Ever (also known as The Last Video), 2004.

The Eurovision Song Contest, 2004.

(In archive footage) 101 Biggest Celebrity Oops, E! Entertainment Television, 2004.

Introducing Graham Norton, Comedy Central, 2004.

Dick Clark's New Year's Primetime Rockin' Eve 2005, ABC, 2004.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

(In archive footage) Retrosexual: The 80's (documentary), VH1, 2004.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

Copresenter, The 45th Annual Academy Awards, NBC, 1973.

The 16th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS, 1974.

The 46th Annual Academy Awards, NBC, 1974.

The 55th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1983.

The 56th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1984.

Presenter, The 58th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1986.

MTV 1988 Video Music Awards, MTV, 1988.

The 60th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1988.

MTV 1989 Video Music Awards, MTV, 1989.

The 61st Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1989.

Presenter, MTV 1991 Video Music Awards, MTV, 1991.

The 1991 Billboard Music Awards, 1991.

The American Film Institute Salute to Jack Nicholson, CBS, 1994.

The 1998 Billboard Music Awards, 1998.

The 70th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1998.

Honoree, The 18th Annual American Fashion Awards, 1999.

Honoree, The 1999 World Music Awards, 1999.

The 26th Annual American Music Awards, 1999.

The BRIT Awards '99, 1999.

Presenter, The 52nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, ABC, 2000.

The 72nd Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 2000.

The 29th Annual American Music Awards, ABC, 2002.

The 2002 Billboard Music Awards, Fox, 2002.

Television Appearances; Pilots:

Tom Snyder's Celebrity Spotlight, NBC, 1980.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Where the Action Is, 1965.

(As Sonny and Cher) Top of the Pops, BBC, 1965, 1966.

Herself, "The Puzzler Is Coming," Batman, ABC, 1966.

Herself, "The Duo Is Slumming," Batman, ABC, 1966.

(As Sonny and Cher) Beat–Club, 1966, 1967.

The Andy Williams Show, NBC, 1967.

Ramona, "The Hot Number Affair," The Man from U.N.C.L.E., NBC, 1967.

Rowan & Martin's Laugh–In, NBC, 1968, 1969.

The Dick Cavett Show, 1970.

"Love and the Sack," Love, American Style, ABC, 1971.

Voice of herself, "The Secret of Shark Island," The New Scooby–Doo Movies (animated), 1972.

The Carol Burnett Show, 1975.

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, NBC, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985.

Omnibus, 1980.

Late Night with David Letterman, NBC, 1986, 1987.

Saturday Night Live, NBC, 1987, 1992.

Top of the Pops, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2001.

Voice of herself, "Here's to Good Friends," Roseanne, ABC, 1988.

Herself, The Howard Stern Show, 1991.

Herself, Dame Edna's Hollywood, 1991.

Los domingos por Norma, 1992.

"El lejano Oeste," Un, dos, tres … responda otra vez, 1993.

"Cerrado por vacaciones," Un, dos, tres … responda otra vez, 1993.

Herself, Don't Forget Your Toothbrush, Channel 4, 1994.

Clive Anderson Talks Back, Channel 4, 1995.

(Two episodes) TFI Friday, Channel 4, 1996.

The RuPaul Show, VH1, 1996.

Herself, Live and Kicking, BBC, 1996, 1999.

The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1996, 1998.

Behind the Music, VH1, 1997.

The National Lottery Stars, 1999.

"Gypsies, Tramps and Weed," Will & Grace, NBC, 2000.

"Wetten, dass …? Aus Erfurt," Wetten, dass …?, 2001.

GMTV, ITV, 2001.

Parkinson, BBC, 2001.

So Graham Norton, Channel 4, 2001.

The Oprah Winfrey Show, syndicated, 2002.

"A.I.: Artificial Insemination," Will & Grace, NBC, 2002.

Access Hollywood, syndicated, 2002.

"Cyndi Lauper," Behind the Music, VH1, 2002.

NFL Monday Night Football, ABC, 2002.

Entertainment Tonight, syndicated, 2003.

Celebrities Uncensored, E! Entertainment Television, 2003.

Tinseltown TV, International Channel, 2004.

Pulse, Fox, 2004.

Rove Live, Ten Network, 2004.

Larry King Live, CNN, 2004.

Appeared in Hullabaloo, NBC; Also appeared in episodes of Beavis and Butthead, MTV; The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, CBS; The Hollywood Palace, ABC; and The Merv Griffin Show, NBC, syndicated, and CBS.

Television Work; Movies:

Director of "1996" segment, If These Walls Could Talk, HBO, 1996.

Television Work; Specials:

Executive producer, Sonny & Me: Cher Remembers, CBS, 1998.

Executive producer, Cher: The Farewell Tour, NBC, 2003.

Other Television Work:

Executive producer, Oak Ridge, 1998.

Stage Appearances:

Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Martin Beck Theatre, New York City, 1982.

RECORDINGS

Albums:

All I Really Want to Do, Imperial, 1965.

Sonny Side of Cher, Imperial, 1966.

With Love, Imperial, 1966.

Cher, Imperial, 1967.

Backstage, Imperial, 1968.

Golden Greats, 1968.

3614 Jackson Highway, Atco, 1969.

Cher Sings the Hits, 1971.

Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves, Universal Special Products, 1971.

Cher's Greatest Hits, 1972.

Cher Superpak, Vol. 1, 1972.

Cher Superpak, Vol. 2, 1972.

Cher, Kapp, 1972.

Foxy Lady, MCA, 1972.

Hits of Cher, United Artists, 1972.

Bittersweet White Light, MCA, 1973.

Dark Lady, MCA, 1974.

Half Breed, MCA, 1974.

Very Best, 1974.

The Very Best of Cher, Vol. 2, 1975.

Stars, Warner Bros., 1975.

Greatest Hits, MCA, 1975.

I'd Rather Believe in You, Warner Bros., 1977.

Cherished, Warner Bros., 1977.

Two the Hard Way, Allman & Woman, 1977.

Take Me Home, Casablanca, 1978.

This Is Cher, Sunset, 1978.

Prisoner, Casablanca, 1979.

Take Me Home, Universal Special Products, 1979.

Best of Cher, Vol. 1, 1981.

Best of Cher, Vol. 2, 1981.

I Paralyze, Varese Vintage, 1982.

Golden Greats, 1985.

The Best of Cher, EMI America, 1987.

Cher, Geffen, 1988.

Heart of Stone, Geffen, 1989.

Outrageous, Special Music, 1989.

The Ugly Duckling, Windham Hill, 1990.

Best of Cher, EMI America, 1991.

Love Hurts, Geffen, 1991.

Bang Bang and Other Hits, Capitol, 1992.

All I Really Want to Do/The Sonny Side of Cher, EMI Legends, 1992.

Greatest Hits: 1965–1992, Geffen Records, 1993.

Greatest Hits, Import, 1993.

Take Me Home/Prisoner, Alex, 1994.

It's a Man's World, Warner Bros., 1996.

Cher: The Casablanca Years, PolyGram, 1996.

The Long and Winding Road, Ariola Express, 1996.

You Better Sit Down Kids, Disky, 1996.

Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves: 25 Great Songs, Movie Play, 1997.

Believe, Warner Bros., 1998.

Original Hits, Disky, 1998.

Cher with Sonny, Entertainers, 1998.

Greatest Hits, 1999.

Bittersweet: Love Songs Collection, MCA Records, 1999.

Believe, Import, 1999.

If I Could Turn Back Time: Cher's Greatest Hits, Geffen, 1999.

Take Me Home, 1999.

Sunny, Magic, 1999.

Bang Bang: The Early Years, Capitol/EMI Records, 1999.

Black Rose, EMI, 1999.

All or Nothing, WEA International, 1999.

Greatest Hits, WEA/Universal, 1999.

Cher Favorites, Intercontinental, 1999.

Not.Com.mercial, 2000.

Story, EMI Plus, 2000.

20th Century Masters—The Millennium Collection: The Best of Cher, MCA Records, 2000.

Millennium Edition, Universal International, 2000.

Best of Cher, Columbia, 2000.

Maximum Cher, Griffin Music, 2000.

The Way of Love: The Cher Collection, MCA Records, 2000.

Behind the Door: 1964–1974, Raven Records, 2000.

Greatest Hits, Vol. 1, Fuel, 2000.

Holdin' Out for Love, Import, 2001.

Living Proof, WEA International, 2001.

Essential Collection, Hip–O Records, 2001.

Believe, WEA International, 2001.

Living Proof, WEA International, 2002.

Absolutely the Best, Vol. 1, Fuel 2000 Records, 2002.

Blue, Universal International, 2003.

The Very Best of Cher, Warner Bros. Records, 2003.

Live: The Farewell Tour, Warner Bros. Records, 2003.

The Very Best of Cher—Special Edition, Warner Bros. Records, 2003.

20th Century Masters—The Millennium Collection: The Best of Cher, Vol. 2, Hip–O Records, 2004.

The Very Best of Cher—Bonus Tracks, Warner Strategic Marketing, 2005.

All I Really Want to Do/The Sonny Side of Cher, Beat Goes On, 2005.

Albums; With Sonny Bono as Sonny and Cher:

Look at Us, Atco, 1965.

Baby Don't Go, Reprise, 1965.

Wondrous World, Atco, 1966.

In Case You're in Love, Atlantic, 1967.

Good Times, Atlantic, 1967.

The Best of Sonny and Cher, Atlantic, 1968.

Sonny & Cher Live, Kapp, 1969.

The Nitty Gritty Hour, View Video, 1970.

All I Ever Need Is You, Kapp, 1971.

Live in Las Vegas, MCA, 1974.

Mama Was a Rock 'n' Roll Singer, 1974.

Greatest Hits, MCA, 1975.

The Beat Goes On, Atco, 1975.

At Their Best, 1989.

I Got You Babe, Rhino Records, 1993.

The Beat Goes ON: The Best of Sonny & Cher, Rhino Records, 1993.

You Better Sit Down Kids, Great Hits, 1996.

All I Ever Need: The Kapp/MCA Anthology, MCA Records, 1996.

I Got You Babe & Other Hits, Flashback Records, 1997.

Sonny & Cher Greatest Hits, 1998.

The Singles+, BR Music, 2000.

The Essentials, Rhino Records, 2002.

Recorded Live, The Two of Us, Atlantic Singles, Rhino; singles with Sonny Bono include "Baby Don't Go," "The Beat Goes On," "I Got You Babe," and "You Better Sit Down Kids."

Albums; With Others:

(With Gregg Allman) Allman and Woman: Two the Hard Way, Warner Bros., 1976.

(With Black Rose) Black Rose, Casablanca, 1980.

(With others) For Our Children Too!, Wea/Atlantic/Rhino, 1996.

Also recorded the single (with Peter Cetera) "After All" (theme song from the film Chances Are), 1989.

Videos:

(With Sonny Bono as Sonny and Cher) Sonny and Cher: Nitty Gritty Hour, 1970.

Storyteller, Rabbit Ears: The Ugly Duckling, 1985.

Michael Jackson: The Legend Continues, 1988.

Cherfitness: A New Attitude, 1991.

Cherfitness: Body Confidence, 1992.

Oscar's Greatest Moments, 1992.

Cher: Extravaganza—Live at the Mirage, 1992.

(With Sonny Bono as Sonny and Cher) Flashbacks 2: Pop Parade, 1994.

Tina Turner: Celebrate Live (also known as Happy Birthday Tina!), 1999.

Cher: Live in Concert, 1999.

Reflections on "The X–Files," 2004.

The Very Best of Cher: The Video Hits Collection, 2004.

Also appeared in music videos, including (with Peter Cetera) "After All."

Video Director:

The Very Best of Cher: The Video Hits Collection, 2004.

Video Games:

Voice of Isadora, Nine, 1996.

WRITINGS

Nonfiction:

(With Robert Haas) Forever Fit: The Lifetime Plan for Health, Beauty, and Fitness, Bantam, 1991.

(With Andrew Ennis and Joan Nielsen) Cooking for Cher, Simon & Schuster, 1997.

The First Time (autobiography), Simon & Schuster, 1998.

Videos:

The Very Best of Cher: The Video Hits Collection, 2004.

OTHER SOURCES

Books:

Contemporary Musicians, Volume 35, Gale, 2002.

Goodall, Nigel, Cher in Her Own Words, Omnibus Press, 1992.

Jacobs, Linda, Cher: Simply Cher, EMC Corp., 1975.

Petrucelli, Rita, Cher: Singer and Actress, illustrated by Luciano Lazzarino, Rourke Enterprises, 1989.

Taraborrelli, J. Randy, Cher: A Biography, St. Martin's Press, 1986.

Periodicals:

Billboard, September 18, 1999, p. 134.

Entertainment Weekly, May 31, 1996, p. 22; February 5, 1999, p. S7; April 23, 1999, pp. 16–21; November 1, 1999, p. 116.

Interview, October, 1994, p. 172; December, 1998, pp. 94–99.

Ladies Home Journal, November, 1996, p. 178; July, 1999, p. 42.

New York Times, March 20, 1988.

People Weekly, January 21, 1991; May 25, 1998, p. 84;

November 22, 1999, pp. 10–11.

Premier, February, 1988.

Rolling Stone, April 15, 1999, p. 45.

TV Guide, May 16, 1998, pp. 28–30, 33.

Women's Wear Daily, September 13, 1999, p. 94S.

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Cher

Cher

Singer

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Performing artist Cher has been a mainstay of the Hollywood glitterati for more than three decades, and her personal star seems to be waxing still. Few would quarrel with Mademoiselle contributor Diana Maychick, who calls Cher a breed unto herself who has lived enough lives to fill a novel. Professionally, the statuesque performer has had equal success as a singer, a comedienne, and an actress, with highly successful records and an Academy Award and Grammy Award to her credit. Personally, a series of tempestuous relationships with several rock stars, producers, and actors has helped keep her name in the news even when her career stagnated.

As a reporter for Time noted, the arc of Chers rise to stardom proves that at least one American dream lives: she gives evidence that show biz can still reach out among the adolescent millions andwith a little luck and a lot of hypetransform a mildly talented young woman into a multimillion dollar property. Ironically, though known for her cool onstage demeanor and effectively understated acting, Cher admits to a chronic case of stage fright. Ive been running on fear, she told Mademoiselle. But, she added, she has learned that you take your terror and you do it.

A younger generation might recognize Cher as simply a film actress, but it was as a popular singer that she first gained national notoriety. Her initial success in the music industry can be attributed to her former husband/partner, the late Sonny Bono; they married in 1964 when Cher was only 17 years old. Bono had some prior experience as a songwriter and record producer, and he recognized Chers star potential. However, noted a Time reporter, they both must have known that she needed him. Her ambition may have been fierce, but like her talent it was vague and undefined. First Bono talked Cher into concentrating on singing rather than acting, her art of choice. Then, after she had done some studio backup work for other artists, he began to write songs specifically for her.

Bono told Time that Cher was too frightened to perform by herself, so he provided vocal harmony just to be with her. After a short stint as Caesar and Cleo they began singing as Sonny and Cher, and their third record releasefeaturing the 1965 soft-rock tune I Got You, Babesold more than four million copies and made them instant headliners. By the fall of that year they had five singles on the top 40 charts simultaneously and were playing at major rock concerts in the United States and Europe.

The Sonny and Cher sound drew on folk and rock roots, especially the work of Bob Dylan. A critic for the Rolling Stone Record Guide contends that the couple always cultivated an exuberant vulgarity in order to disarm Sixties songwriting to push it into a more comfortably sentimental direction. This exuberant vulgarity extended to their wardrobes as well; both

For the Record

Born Cherilyn Sarkesian on May 20, 1946, in El Centro, CA; daughter of John and Georgia (a model; maiden name, Holt) Sarkesian; stepdaughter of Gilbert LaPiere (a bank manager); married Sonny (Salvatore Philip) Bono (a record producer, songwriter, and entertainer; died 1998), October 27, 1964; divorced, May 1975; married Gregg Allman (a musician), June 1975; divorced; children: (with Bono) Chastity, (with Allman) Elijah Blue.

Singer, with husband, Sonny Bono, in duo Sonny and Cher, 196475, 1977; recorded and performed as a soloist, 1965; star of musical variety television shows The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, 197174, Cher, 197576, and The Sonny and Cher Show, 1977; member of rock group Black Rose, 197980; actress in feature films, including Good Times, 1966, Chastity, 1969, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, 1982 (also performed role on Broadway), Silkwood, 1983, Mask, 1985, The Witches of East-wick, 1987, Moonstruck, 1988, Mermaids, 1990, and Tea with Mussolini, 1999; released multiplatinum album, Believe, 1998; released Not.Com.mercial, 2000.

Awards: Academy Award, Best Actress for Moonstruck, 1988; Golden Globe, Best Actress for Moonstruck, 1988; Vanguard Award and star on the Walk of Fame, both for Sonny and Cher, 1998; Grammy Award, Best Dance Recording for Believe, 1999.

Addresses: Record company Chers Plattenfirma, WEA Records, Arndtstr. 16, 22805 Hamburg, Denmark, website: http://www.wea.de. Website Cher Official Website: http://www.cher.com.

favored hip-hugging bell-bottom pants and a gaudy array of hippy-style shirts and vests. Then, observes Time, fashion changed. Hard rock, acid rock, were suddenly in, and Sonny and Cher were out.

Their plunge in popularity was accelerated by their vocal criticism of drug use. Cher told Time that after she and Sonny made a public service film denouncing drugs, their fans thought we were stupid. Deeply in debt after a movie project called Chastity bombed, the couple was forced to reassess their act and make drastic changes. Against Chers wishes they opted for a more mainstream approach in sound and style, and they turned to nightclubs for performing venues. It was in this environment that Sonny and Cher developed the comic repartee and musical variety formula that they would take to television so successfully.

Between 1971 and 1974, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour was seen weekly by more than 30 million viewers. Simultaneously, Cher began a solo singing career in the pop format; her best known hits were Half Breed and Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves, both of which reached number one on the charts. By virtue of her glamorous Bob Mackie gowns and ever-changing hairstylesa look Rolling Stone correspondent Lynn Hirschberg called ridiculously sexy for televisionCher cultivated an image of materialistic excess that was tempered by the themes of hurt and vulnerability in her music. Television always made Cher accessible, Hirschberg wrote. She seemed like a lot of fun. She appealed to the junky impulses in everyone.

In 1975, Sonny and Cher divorced; both starred in their own variety shows, but only Chers was a success. Still, the dissolution of Sonny and Cher marked the beginning of a difficult period for her. Gradually her show declined in popularity, and her personal life was made chaotic by her marriage to and subsequent divorce from band leader Gregg Allman. She became tabloid fodder as a result of extended liaisons with producer David Geffen and with Gene Simmons of the colorful rock group Kiss. By 1977, she told Rolling Stone her career cooled down to an ice cube. Musically she experimented with a fully orchestrated studio sound on the 1977 album Id Rather Believe In You and then turned to disco on 1978s Take Me Home. Neither record achieved the popularity of her previous offerings. She renewed her attempts at musical innovation in 1980 when she formed the hard rock band Black Rose. The effort was a critical disaster; Jim Farber reported in Rolling Stone that newspaper reviews were pointedly negative, singling out Cher for their barbs even though she deliberately understated her role in the band. The critics panned us, Cher told Rolling Stone. And they didnt attack the record. They attacked me. It was like, How dare Cher sing rock & roll?

Stung by this defeat, Cher returned to the more conventional Las Vegas stage show and tried to inch her way onto a stage or into a film as a serious actress. In the latter capacityas an actressshe met with unanticipated but welcome critical favor. In movies such as Silkwood in 1983, Mask in 1985, and Moonstruck In 1987, Cher not only triumphs as an actress, but finally vanquishes her glitzy Vegas image, according to Newsweek contributor Cathleen McGuigan. Indeed, Cher won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Moonstruck. Cher also appeared in Tea with Mussolini in 1999.

Even as she won respect for her acting, this ambitious performer never relinquished her musical career. She continued recording and singing regularly in New York, Las Vegas, and Atlantic City, while constantly entertaining the idea of starring in a movie musical. She released new albums throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, including Its a Mans World in 1996, the multiplatinum Believe in 1998 for which the title track won a Grammy Award in 1999, and Not.Com.mercial, an album sold strictly on the Internet, in 2000. She also dabbled in directing in 1996 and following the death of Bono in a skiing accident in 1998, published a memoir.

Time suggested that by whatever medium she might choose, Cher will continue to woo the world through performance. Cher herself told Time: From the time I could talk I began to sing. Singing just came from the insidesomething Id do without thinking whenever I felt good or was really blue. It released my tensions.

Selected discography

Solo

All I Really Want to Do, Imperial, 1965.

Sonny Side of Cher, Imperial, 1966.

Cher, Imperial, 1967.

With Love, Cher, Imperial, 1968.

Backstage, Imperial, 1968.

Golden Greats, 1968.

3614 Jackson Highway, Atco, c. 1969.

Gypsies, Tramps, and Theives (includes Gypsies, Tramps, and Theives), MCA, 1971.

Cher, Kapp, 1972.

Foxy Lady, MCA, 1972.

Bittersweet White Light, MCA, 1973.

Dark Lady, MCA, 1974.

Half Breed, MCA, 1974.

Stars, Warner Bros., 1975.

Id Rather Believe In You, Warner Bros., 1977.

Cherished, Warner Bros., 1977.

Two the Hard Way (Allman and Woman), Warner, 1977.

This Is Cher, Sunset, 1978.

Take Me Home, Casablanca, 1978.

Prisoner, Casablanca, 1979.

I Paralyze, Columbia, 1982.

Cher, Geffen, 1988.

Heart of Stone, Geffen, 1989.

Outrageous, PolyGram, 1989.

Love Hurts, Geffen, 1991.

You Better Sit Down Kids, Great Hits, 1996.

Its a Mans World, WEA, 1996.

Believe (includes Believe), Warner, 1998.

Take Me Home (Australia), Polygram, 1999.

Not.Com.mercial, Isis, 2000.

With Sonny and Cher

Look At Us (includes I Got You, Babe), Atco, 1965.

Wonderous World, Atco, 1966.

In Case Youre In Love, Atlantic, 1967.

Good Times, Atlantic, 1967.

The Best of Sonny & Cher, Atlantic, c. 1968.

Sonny & Cher Live, Kapp, c. 1969; reissued, MCA, 1972.

All I Ever Need Is You, Kapp, 1971; reissued, MCA, 1974.

Live In Las Vegas, MCA, 1974.

Greatest Hits, MCA, 1975.

The Beat Goes On, Atco, 1975.

With Black Rose

Black Rose, Casablanca, 1980.

Sources

Books

The Rolling Stone Record Guide, Random House, 1979.

Periodicals

Billboard, March 4, 2000.

Entertainment Weekly, November 10, 2000.

Mademoiselle, June 1985.

Newsweek, March 18, 1985.

People, April, 10, 1978; October 22, 1979.

Rolling Stone, October 16, 1980; March 29, 1984.

Time, March 17, 1975.

Online

Cher, All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (January 2, 2002).

Cher, Internet Movie Database, http://us.imdb.com/Name?Cher (January 2, 2002).

Cher Official Website, http://www.cher.com (January 2, 2002).

Anne Janette Johnson

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Cher

Cher

Singer, actress

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Performing artist Cher has been a mainstay of the Hollywood glitterati for more than two decades, and her personal star seems to be waxing still. Few would quarrel with Mademoiselle contributor Diana Maychick, who calls Cher a breed unto herself who has lived enough lives to fill a novel. Professionally, the statuesque performer has had equal success as a singer, a comedienne, and an actress, with Gold Records and Academy Award nominations to her credit. Personally, a series of tempestuous relationships with several rock stars, producers, and actors has helped keep her name in the news even when her career stagnated.

As a reporter for Time magazine noted, the arc of Chers rise to stardom proves that at least one American dream lives: she gives evidence that show biz can still reach out among the adolescent millions andwith a little luck and a lot of hypetransform a mildly talented young woman into a multimillion dollar property. Ironically, though known for her cool onstage demeanor and effectively understated acting, Cher admits to a chronic case of stage fright. Ive been running on fear, she told Mademoiselle. But, she added, she has learned that you take your terror and you do it.

A younger generation might recognize Cher as simply a film actress, but it was as a popular singer that she first gained national notoriety. Her initial success in the music industry can be attributed to her former husband/partner Sonny Bono; they married in 1964 when Cher was only seventeen. Bono had had some prior experience as a songwriter and record producer, and he recognized Chers star potential. However, noted the Time reporter, they both must have known that she needed him. Her ambition may have been fierce, but like her talent it was vague and undefined. First Bono talked Cher into concentrating on singing rather than acting, her art of choice. Then, after she had done some studio backup work for other artists, he began to write songs specifically for her.

Bono told Time that Cher was too frightened to perform by herself, so he provided vocal harmony just to be with her. After a short stint as Caesar and Cleo they began singing as Sonny and Cher, and their third record releasethe 1965 soft-rock tune I Got You, Babesold more than four million copies and made them instant headliners. By the fall of that year they had five singles on the Top-40 charts simultaneously and were playing at major rock concerts in the United States and Europe.

The Sonny and Cher sound drew on folk and rock roots, especially the work of Bob Dylan. A critic for the Rolling Stone Record Guide contends that the couple always cultivated an exuberant vulgarity in order to disarm

For the Record

Full name, Cherilyn LaPiere; born Cherilyn Sarkesian, May 20, 1946, in El Centro, Calif.; daughter of John and Georgia (a model; maiden name, Holt) Sarkesian; stepdaughter of Gilbert LaPiere (a bank manager); married Sonny (Salvatore Philip) Bono (a record producer, songwriter, and entertainer), October 27, 1964 (divorced, May, 1975); married Gregg Allman (a musician), June, 1975 (divorced); children: (first marriage) Chastity; (second marriage) Elijah Blue.

Singer, with husband, Sonny Bono, in duo Sonny and Cher, 1964-75, and 1977; has also recorded and performed as a soloist, 1965. Star of musical variety television shows The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, 1971-74, Cher, 1975-76, and The Sonny and Cher Show, 1977. Member of rock group Black Rose, 1979-80. Actress in feature films, including Good Times, 1966, Chastity, 1969, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, 1982 (also performed role on Broadway), Silkwood, 1983, Mask, 1985, The Witches of Eastwick, 1987, and Moonstruck, 1988.

Awards: Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress, 1983, for Silkwood; Academy Award for best actress, 1988, for Moonstruck.

Addresses: Home 2727 Benedict Canyon Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

Sixties songwriting to push it into a more comfortably sentimental direction. This exuberant vulgarity extended to their wardrobes as well; both favored hip-hugging bell-bottom pants and a gaudy array of hippy-style shirts and vests. Then, observes the Time reporter, fashion changed. Hard rock, acid rock, were suddenly in, and Sonny and Cher were out.

Their sudden plunge in popularity was accelerated by their vocal criticism of drug use. Cher told Time that after she and Sonny made a public service film denouncing drugs, their fans thought we were stupid. Deeply in debt after a movie project called Chastity bombed, the couple were forced to reassess their act and make drastic changes. Against Chers wishes they opted for a more mainstream approach in sound and style, and they turned to nightclubs for performing venues. It was in this environment that Sonny and Cher developed the comic repartee and musical variety formula that they would take to television so successfully.

Between 1971 and 1974, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour was seen weekly by more than thirty million viewers. Simultaneously, Cher began a solo singing career in the pop format; her best known hits were Half Breed and Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves, both of which reached number one on the charts. By virtue of her glamorous Bob Mackie gowns and ever-changing hairstylesa look Rolling Stone correspondent Lynn Hirschberg called ridiculously sexy for televisionCher cultivated an image of materialistic excess that was tempered by the themes of hurt and vulnerability in her music. Television always made Cher accessible, Hirschberg wrote. She seemed like a lot of fun. She appealed to the junky impulses in everyone.

In 1975, Sonny and Cher divorced; both starred in their own variety shows, but only Chers was a success. Still, the dissolution of Sonny and Cher marked the beginning of a difficult period for her. Gradually her show declined in popularity, and her personal life was made chaotic by her marriage and divorce of band leader Gregg Allman and extended liasons with producer David Geffen and Gene Simmons, actor and member of the colorful rock group Kiss. By 1977, she told Rolling Stone, her career cooled down to an ice cube. Musically she experimented with a fully-orchestrated studio sound on the 1977 album Id Rather Believe In You and then turned to disco on the 1978 Take Me Home. Neither record achieved the popularity of her previous offerings.

Chers last attempt at musical innovation came in 1980 when she formed the hard rock band Black Rose. The effort was a critical disaster; Jim Farber reported in Rolling Stone that newspaper reviews were pointedly negative, singling out Cher for their barbs even though she deliberately understated her role in the band. The critics panned us, Cher told Rolling Stone.And they didnt attack the record. They attacked me. It was like, How dare Cher sing rock & roll?

Stung by this defeat, Cher returned to her more conventional Las Vegas stage show and tried to inch her way onto a stage or into a film as a serious actress. In the latter capacityas an actressshe has met with unexpected but welcome critical favor. In movies such as Silkwood, Mask, and Moonstruck, to quote Newsweek contributor Cathleen McGuigan, Cher not only triumphs as an actress, but finally vanquishes her glitzy Vegas image.

Although she has won respect for her acting, the ambitious performer has not relinquished her musical career. She still sings in New York, Las Vegas, and Atlantic City, and she is constantly entertaining the idea of starring in a movie musical. Time suggested that by whatever medium she chooses, Cher will continue to woo the world through performance. Cher herself told Time: From the time I could talk I began to sing. Singing just came from the insidesomething Id do without thinking whenever I felt good or was really blue. It released my tensions.

Selected discography

With Sonny and Cher

Look At Us, Atco, 1965.

Wonderous World, Atco, 1966.

In Case Your In Love, Atlantic, 1967.

Good Times, Atlantic, 1967.

The Best of Sonny & Cher, Atlantic, c. 1968.

Sonny & Cher Live, Kapp, c. 1969, re-released, MCA, 1972.

All I Ever Need Is You, Kapp, 1971, re-released, MCA, 1974.

Baby Dont Go, Reprise.

Live In Las Vegas, MCA, 1974.

Greatest Hits, MCA, 1975.

The Beat Goes On, Atco, 1975.

Solo albums

All I Really Want to Do, Imperial, 1965.

Sonny Side of Cher, Imperial, 1966.

Cher, Imperial, 1967.

With Love, Imperial, 1968.

Backstage, Imperial, 1968.

Golden Greats, 1968.

3614 Jackson Highway, Atco, c. 1969.

Cher, Kapp, 1972.

Foxy Lady, MCA, 1972.

Hits of Cher, United Artists, 1972.

Bittersweet White Light, MCA, 1973.

Dark Lady, MCA, 1974.

Half Breed, MCA, 1974.

Stars, Warner Bros., 1975.

This Is Cher, Sunset.

Greatest Hits, MCA, 1975.

Id Rather Believe In You, Warner Bros., 1977.

Cherished, Warner Bros., 1977.

Take Me Home, Casablanca, 1978.

Prisoner, Casablanca, 1979.

The Best of Cher, EMI America, 1987.

Cher, Geffen, 1988.

Sings the Hits, Springboard.

Greatest Hits, Springboard.

Live.

The Two of Us.

This Is Cher.

Allman and Woman.

With Black Rose

Black Rose, Casablanca, 1980.

Sources

Books

The Rolling Stone Record Guide, Random House, 1979.

Periodicals

Mademoiselle, June, 1985.

Newsweek, March 18, 1985.

People, April, 10, 1978; October 22, 1979.

Rolling Stone, October 16, 1980; March 29, 1984.

Time, March 17, 1975.

Anne Janette Johnson

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Cher

CHER



Nationality: American. Born: Cherilyn Sarkisian in Southern California, 20 May 1946. Education: Trained for the stage with Jeff Corey. Family: Married 1) Sonny Bono, 1964 (some sources say 1969) (divorced 1974), daughter: Chastity; 2) Gregg Allman, 1975 (divorced), son: Elijah Blue. Career: With husband, as Sonny and Cher, had first U.S. hit, Baby Don't Go, 1965; co-hosted The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour for CBS, 1971–74; had her own TV show, Cher, 1975–76; co-hosted The Sonny and Cher Show, 1976–77; appeared on stage (then on film) in Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, 1982; won international success as a film actress, mid-late 1980s. Awards: Best TV Actress—Musical/Comedy Golden Globe, for The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, 1971; Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture Golden Globe, for Silkwood, 1983; Best Actress Cannes Film Festival, for Mask, 1985; Best Actress Academy Award, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture—Comedy/Musical Golden Globe, for Moonstruck, 1987. Address: c/o Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A.

Films as Actress:

1965

Wild on the Beach (Dexter) (as herself)

1967

Good Times (Friedkin) (as herself)

1969

Chastity (De Paola) (title role)

1982

Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (Altman) (as Sissy)

1983

Silkwood (Nichols) (as Dolly Pelliker)

1985

Mask (Bogdanovich) (as Rusty Dennis)

1987

The Witches of Eastwick (Miller) (as Alexandra Medford); Suspect (Yates) (as Kathleen Riley, Public Defender); Moonstruck (Jewison) (as Loretta Castorini)

1990

Mermaids (Benjamin) (as Mrs. Flax)

1992

The Player (Altman) (as herself)

1994

Ready to Wear (Pret-a-Porter) (Altman) (as herself)

1996

Faithful (Mazursky) (as Margaret O'Donnell)

1999

Tea With Mussolini (Zeffirelli) (as Elsa); Cher: Live in Concert from Las Vegas (doc) (as herself)



Films as Director:

1996

If These Walls Could Talk (for TV) (co-d, + ro)



Publications


By CHER: book—


Cher in Her Own Words, compiled by Nigel Goodall, London, 1992.


By CHER: articles—

Interview with Allan Hunter, in Films and Filming (London), August 1985.

Interview in Time Out (London), 21 October 1987.

Interview with A. Kass, in Films and Filming (London), December 1987.

"Cher: Chez la femme," interview with Harlan Jacobson, in Film Comment (New York), January/February 1988.

Interview with Eugenie Ross-Leming and David Standish, in Playboy (Chicago), December 1988.

Interview with Bruce Roberts, in Interview (New York), October 1994.

"Young Men Pick Me. Middle-aged Men Never Ask Me Out," interview with Andrew Duncan in Radio Times (London), 25 November 1995.

"Straight Up," interview with E. Weitzman, in Interview (New York), December 1998.


On CHER: books—

Taraborelli, J. Randy, Cher: A Biography, New York, 1986.

Quirk, Lawrence J., Totally Uninhibited: The Life and Wild Times of Cher, New York, 1991.

St. Michael, Mick, Cher: The Visual Documentary, London, 1993.

On CHER: articles—

Connelly, Christopher, "Uncommon Women," in Premiere (New York), November 1990.

Current Biography 1991, New York, 1991.

Kudrjavcev, S, "Istvikskie Ved'my," in Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), July 1992.


* * *

Cher is an unpredictable woman, a talented entertainer who seems to enjoy sampling various show business venues without getting attached to any one. It might be unfair to categorize her as a movie star, since her active on-screen career has been limited to relatively few films. One is on more secure ground calling Cher a celebrity.

Her emergence as a critically acclaimed screen actress in the 1980s is surprising not only because few would have guessed she could be a talented actress, but also because the roles she has taken are so different from her celebrity image. In most of her films, she plays distinctly unglamourous women, a far cry from the glittery persona associated with her long-standing fame.

For a decade, 1965–74, she was the overtly talented half of the singing duo Sonny and Cher. After several hit singles and a popular television show, the marriage ended and so the act folded. Cher continued her singing career and had a number of hits ("Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves," "Half Breed," "Dark Lady ") which alluded to a difficult and impoverished upbringing as the daughter of a part Cherokee Indian mother who was married eight times. Aside from buying her records, the public craved information about her love affairs with younger men, her provocative—and quite tacky—scanty clothing, and her face and figure. The tabloids were quick to supply any and all information they could run down or make up. She cashed in on her celebrity in the late 1970s with a solo act in Las Vegas for which she was paid $300,000 per week.

Few performers have made the leap from Las Vegas to art cinema, but Cher managed to do just that when she took the role of Sissy, a good-natured but hard-drinking and rough-talking waitress, in Robert Altman's screen version of the stage play Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, whose plot involves the 1975 reunion of the James Dean Fan Club, a group of forlorn women who share the events of their unfulfilled lives. The genesis of her film career came the year before the film was made when she moved to New York City to seek work in the theater, and Altman hired her for the play's Broadway run.

Mike Nichols was so impressed with Cher's stage performance as Sissy that he cast her in Silkwood as the blue-collar, frumpy lesbian roommate of Karen Silkwood (Meryl Streep). This was a much more mainstream movie than Jimmy Dean, and Cher's praised performance led to her being cast as unglamourous leads in other Hollywood films. All of a sudden, baby boomers who had grown to maturity alongside Cher were realizing that Sonny was not the only member of the duo with brains. Scratch Cher's sequined exterior, and you find an intelligent and insightful actress.

She next starred in Mask as a drug-addicted, foul-mouthed motorcycle mama who is a loving mother to a son suffering from craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, a disease that causes enlargement of the head and disfigurement of the facial features. It was the sort of down-and-dirty role that many stars would refuse. Cher relished the part and became friendly with real-life disease victim Rusty Dennis, and has since raised funds to support victims of this disease. Cher fought with director Peter Bogdanovich throughout the production, insisting on playing the character in her own instinctual way. For her determined efforts, she wound up winning the 1985 Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award.

In the late 1980s, Cher continued to record hit tunes and appear in a variety of films. The Witches of Eastwick is an entertaining black comedy about three New England sex-starved females who conjure up a charming devil of a man (Jack Nicholson). She also played a public defender in Suspect, a film which did little to further her career. But in Moonstruck, Cher found an outstanding opportunity in the plain-Jane role of Loretta Castorini, who is 37 going on 50. Loretta dresses like a frump. Her frizzy black hair has more than a touch of gray. A widow of seven years, she is a dutiful daughter who lives with her very ethnic Italian-American parents in a very ethnic Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn. She has been dating Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello), a respectable but boring fellow. When Johnny proposes marriage, she readily accepts. But Loretta has yet to meet Johnny's estranged brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage), who causes her to bloom like the cherry blossoms in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on a sunny spring afternoon. Loretta's catharsis is the thrust of Moonstruck; by the time she played Loretta, Cher had developed into a solid screen actress. Her performance in the film ranks with her roles in Silkwood and Mask as her best work to date on celluloid, but this time she earned a Best Actress Academy Award.

Mermaids allowed Cher to play a sexy single mom to Winona Ryder, and was a solid comedy hit. She put in a fine performance (and had enough creative leverage to have director Frank Oz replaced by Richard Benjamin), but the role was not in the same league as Moonstruck. The following decade found her mostly absent from the screen. She starred in exercise videos that showed off the fabulous body she claims comes from workouts rather than nips and tucks, and occasionally appeared on infomercials. Aside from cameo appearances as herself in The Player and Ready to Wear, Cher took roles in only two theatrical features: Faithful, a well-intentioned drama in which she plays an unhappy wife whose husband hires a hit man to murder her; and Tea With Mussolini, cast as a wealthy American in 1930s Italy who becomes involved with a group of eccentric British expatriate women. In the film, Cher plays opposite several of the world's top actresses, including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and Joan Plowright. Yet she practically steals the film with her vibrant presence and screen confidence.

Perhaps Cher's most notable 1990s credit is the three-part made-for-television feature If These Walls Could Talk, a serious-minded drama which explores the issues of unplanned pregnancy and abortion. Cher not only takes an acting role in the film, but also co-directs (with Nancy Savoca).

—H. M. Glancy, updated by Audrey E. Kupferberg

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Cher

CHER

Born: Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPierre; El Centro, California, 20 May 1946

Genre: Pop, Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Believe (1998)

Hit songs since 1990: "Believe," "Strong Enough"

Few performers have earned the label "survivor" more deservedly than Cher. Constantly reinventing herself during a forty-year career, the indomitable performer has triumphed over fluctuations in popular taste to become an American institution, one of the few singers more famous for who she is than for her music. Cher's celebrity persona has sometimes obscured the appealing quality of her recordings. While her voice often sounds awkward and her phrasing excessively blunt, Cher puts tremendous energy and strength of spirit into her music. Never one to err on the side of subtlety, she infuses her performances with an aggression and straightforwardness that transcend technical limitations. Focusing mostly on acting during the 1980s, she re-entered the music spotlight in the late 1990s to release one of the most successful albums of her career. By 1999, at age fifty-three, Cher had won an entirely new generation of fans.


Sonny and Cher

Born in El Centro, California, Cher was raised by a struggling actress mother with few financial means, her father having left the family when Cher was three years old. At sixteen, Cher moved alone to Los Angeles, where she worked as a background singer in order to support her acting ambitions. The next year she met Salvatore "Sonny" Bono, a songwriter and protégé of hit pop producer Phil Spector. The pair soon married and formed a professional alliance as the singing duo Caesar and Cleo. As Sonny and Cher, they scored a smash hit in 1965 with "I Got You Babe," a charming pop confection featuring clumsy but sincere vocals and a lilting, sing-song arrangement. Unfortunately, Sonny and Cher's popularity faded near the end of the 1960s after they starred in two poorly received films. Plagued by subsequent troubles with the Internal Revenue Service, they decided to embark upon a television career. Their TV program, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, was a huge success and ran in various forms from 1971 to 1976. At the same time Cher pursued a career as a solo artist, recording in a more adult, yet equally intense, style. Songs such as "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves" (1971) and "I Saw a Man and He Danced with His Wife" (1974) dealt with themes of teen pregnancy and adultery, and, along with her trend-setting fashion sense, contributed to Cher's bold, daring image during this period.

Splitting from husband Bono in the mid-1970s, Cher recorded a disco hit, the promiscuously themed "Take Me Home" (1979), before returning to her first love, acting. Fine performances followed in films such as Silkwood (1983) and Mask (1985). In 1988 she won an Academy Award for her funny, touching performance in the romantic comedy Moonstruck (1987).


1990s Stardom

By the late 1980s and early 1990s Cher was balancing a dual acting and singing career, recording hits and shooting music videos that emphasized her outrageous taste. In 1989 her video for the song "If I Could Turn Back Time" was banned by music video network MTV after viewers complained about her revealing costume. While many of Cher's late-1980s and early-1990s songs were hard-rock-influenced "power ballads," with heavy drums and blaring electric guitar, she displayed a softer, warmer side on the 1996 album, It's a Man's World. On the opening track, "One by One," she sings with a breathiness that recalls 1960s pop vocalist Dusty Springfield, while "Not Enough Love in the World" conveys a sweetness that is out of character with her brash earlier recordings. "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)" is another highlight, a well-orchestrated song that Cher sings with soaring exuberance. Taken as a whole, It's a Man's World presents a subtler Cher whose awareness of her vocal strengths has deepened. While her voice could not be described as pretty in the conventional sense, it is nonetheless distinctive and powerful. Like that of pop singer Barbra Streisand, it is immediately recognizable and uniquely her own. Still, Cher's mid-1990s recordings were often overshadowed by her ongoing presence in tabloid newspapers, whose writers speculated on her bouts with chronic fatigue syndrome and the extent of her plastic surgery. In 1998, however, she found herself back in the musical spotlight with the album Believe, which brought her a degree of popular acceptance she had not experienced in years. During this period Cher became an activist for gay rights after her daughter with Bono, Chastity, came out as a lesbian. The late 1990s were also marked by loss: Former husband and longtime friend Sonny was killed in a skiing accident in 1998.

In early 2002 Cher released Living Proof, another collection of techno-disco dance songs emphasizing themes of unity and strength. Although not as compelling as Believe, Living Proof succeeds through Cher's undiminished energy and professionalism. When the album's first single, the inspirational "Song for the Lonely," entered the Top 100 hit charts, Cher set a new record in pop music: Her hits have spanned thirty-seven years, the longest period for any artist. Soon after Living Proof 's release she announced plans for a farewell tour in 2002, but later extended the dates into 2003. Cher pulled out all of the stops for these live performances, creating a circuslike atmosphere through a host of larger-than-life stage devices. Starting the show by riding a giant chandelier onto the stage amidst dancers and acrobats, she then disappeared and returned on top of a large puppet elephant. The show's theatricality helps explain Cher's enduring appeal. As much performance artist as singer, Cher makes each appearance an event.

Spot Light: Believe

In 1998 Cher had not had a major hit in nine years, although her albums continued to sell among a core group of fans. That year she worked with a young, relatively unknown production and songwriting team, Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling, in their small, low-tech London studio. The result was Believe, an album that brought Cher's thirty-five-year career to new heights. The title track, featuring an electronic dance rhythm suggestive of 1970s disco music, became the best-selling single of 1998 and remained on the charts through the next year. Although the energetic beat recalls disco's good-time party atmosphere, Cher's haunting vocals and the bittersweet lyrics"Do you believe in life after love?"point to the sadness of the post-AIDS era. The song's most unusual element is the use of an electronic vocoder, an instrument that makes Cher's voice sound distorted and robotic. Rather than ruining her performance, the vocoder adds a spiky layer of character in keeping with the singer's unconventional personality. Impressively, Taylor and Rawling sustain the single's enthusiasm throughout the album's remaining nine songs, taking Cher through a series of catchy tunes, hook-laden tracks, and infectious beats. For all their sophistication, songs such as "The Power" and "All or Nothing" reveal a gritty, homemade quality that captures Cher's fighting spirit and tough essence. Attesting on Believe that, "I know that I'll get through this / Cause I know that I am strong," Cher sings with the knowledge and experience of a true show-business survivor.


Remaining a star through five decades of changing trends, Cher is more than a pop singer; she is a force, an all-around performer with a canny sense of style and publicity. Recording in virtually every pop musical style since the 1960s, from teen ballads to disco, she has set a standard for endurance and energy. Never a subtle vocalist, Cher succeeds through her sweeping sense of drama and astute understanding of the dynamics of performance. Despite the ever-changing musical backdrops, she retains her individuality and spirit.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

With Love, Cher (Imperial, 1967); Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves (Kapp, 1971); Take Me Home (Casablanca, 1979); Heart of Stone (Geffen, 1989); It's a Man's World (Warner Bros., 1996); Believe (Warner Bros., 1998); Living Proof (Warner Bros., 2002).

SELECTIVE FILMOGRAPHY:

Silkwood (1983); Mask (1985); Moonstruck (1987); Faithful (1995); If These Walls Could Talk (1996); Tea with Mussolini (1999).

WEBSITE:

www.cher.com.

david freeland

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"Cher." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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